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Clarity of Message

February 17, 2010

Oh, the holiday pressures this week: Valentine’s Day, Presidents’, Fat Tuesday and Ash Wednesday. So many messages: love, leadership, overindulgence, sacrifice...It’s confusing.

 

So, let’s discuss clarity of message—and more importantly—do you have it? Perhaps you’ve wallpapered overtop your product or service with a long list of features and benefits. Instead, use only the words needed to prompt action—no more, no less. Don’t confuse employees and prospects with extraneous messages. Focus = Follow Through. Don’t lose the focus. 

 

It’s a fact Lincoln led our country through its greatest internal crisis, resulting in preservation of the Union and the end of slavery. Therefore, I was shocked and confused when I read the following quote at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. 

 

"I would save the Union. I would save it the shortest way under the Constitution.…My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that.”

—Abraham Lincoln, August 1862, Letter of response to the New York Tribune  Download the letter in its entirety.

 

Now, before you fly off the handle (like I did), please note: Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation the following month, September 1862.

 

Why would I bring this up, you ask? Because I’m a history nerd.

And because Lincoln had clarity of message. In a tumultuous, bloody time of attrition in our nation’s history, in which nothing was certain­—not even freedom, Lincoln kept his message to three words: “save the Union”. That clear, focused message culminated with the precious and rich rewards of freedom and equality.

 

Keep it clear. Keep the focus. Use your words.

 

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