Guest Post by Chad O’Connor, Communication Consultant & Adjunct Professor
In continuing from the previous installments of my guest blogs for NPTB, we were in the midst of discussing a strategy for getting your boss to open the purse strings in a tough economy. Working under the hypothetical situation that the budget has already been slashed and it will be tough to get extra expenses picked up unless you can show them to be critical, we can continue on to:
Step 2: Putting together the argument – For a situation such as this, I highly recommend the tried and true formula of the Motivated Sequence as your framework. What’s the Motivated Sequence you say? It has 5 components: Attention, Need, Satisfaction, Visualization, Action.
The Attention component is designed to capture the listener’s (or reader’s) attention right away. This could be starting off with an alarming or little known fact about the subject, or a story related to the subject. In short, if it’s going to catch the eyes and ears of the recipients, then it’s up for inclusion here. Let’s say the company coffee machine is broken and needs to be replaced. Your interesting fact could be “You know, Boss, that coffee is the 2nd most traded commodity in the world, right behind oil?”
The Need component is where you illustrate that there is an unfilled need. Describe the problem so that the audience feels there is a need to take action. Going back to the coffee maker example, describe how it’s unreliable, that the water no longer boils, that people are constantly leaving the office on coffee runs to go get some.
The Satisfaction component offers a specific solution to the problem. In continuing the example, we’d say the solution is getting new coffee maker.
The Visualization component asks recipients of the message to imagine all the good things that happen if your proposed solution is implemented. Really paint a picture of what those benefits would be and how it will all work well. Or to the other extreme, get message recipients to think about all the bad things that will happen if your solution is not implemented. So going back to replacing the coffee machine, good visualizations would include asking the boss to think about all the happy employees he or she would have, how they’ll be more productive by not having to pick up and leave the office to get a good cup of coffee. And for negative visualizations, think about people being accidentally burned by a faulty coffee maker, the bitter employees who will view management as excessively cheap, etc.
The last component is Action, where you tell the audience what they can do to help. Maybe that means asking them to consider a limited set of options (since considering all the options might be a paralyzingly long process). For instance “Since everyone here likes different kinds of coffee and tea we are considering a few different kinds of single-cup automatic machines. Would you take a look at them and let us know which you’d prefer?”). Maybe that means asking them to champion the issue to others (“We’d really appreciate it if you would talk to the other department heads about this issue because it is so important to their employees’ morale, too.”). The easier a course of action is framed as then the more likely it is to be seen through to completion. Asking a daunting challenge is likely to turn off the message recipient right away and lead to inaction (we call this an “Iinertia obstacle”).
Step 3: Doing It, Doing It, & Doing It Well – Be on the lookout for it in the next guest blog entry.
Chad O’Connor has taught communication at Northeastern University and Emerson College in Boston, serves as a connector for Boston World Partnerships, and works with various individuals, companies and nonprofits as a communication consultant on issues such as public speaking, message strategy, and improving organizational communication. Chad can be contacted at his gmail account, firstname.lastname@example.org ,and found on Twitter @chadoconnor
Join us for our next Networking for Non-Profit Event at Friendship Home January 29th!