10 Ways to Screw-Up Your Message


I find many people love to be ignored. Oh, they don’t admit it. They may not even consciously realize it. Why do I think this? Because I constantly see people, including many people in important positions, take the same steps to kill their message and push away their audience.

If you too would love to be regularly ignored and your messages lost, here are Ten Ways to Screw-Up Your Message:

Bored boy1. Use big words. Big, technical, or obscure words can show how smart you are to others while they have no idea what you are talking about. As a bonus, most of them don’t care how smart you are either.

2. Start with too many facts. People may need facts, but typically only after they are genuinely interested. You can ruin that interest by pummeling them with data first.

3. Speak mainly in facts and statistics. Unless your listeners are in a class needing to learn these specific facts and information, this type of message is quickly ignored and forgotten. Blah, Blah, Blah.

4. Avoid considering the perspective of those listening. If you don’t understand your audience, they figure that out quick. This ruins your credibility and, in turn, your message.

5. Be important. Since few people like a pompous jerk, acting like you are the biggest VIP in the room is a great way to turn people off to you and your message.

6. Always be right. People don’t all agree about everything. By always being right, you can ensure that others must clearly be wrong. This helps them believe you are an idiot and that all of your messages are now suspect.

7. Only talk about yourself. Your life may be your favorite topics. And you are likely an expert on this topic. But unless you are requested to specifically talk about your life, focusing only on yourself will glaze over listeners quickly.

8. Use only one volume. Whether always loud, always soft, or somewhere in between, a single volume is easier to ignore than using different volumes for appropriate emphasis and effect.

9. Be emotionless. Many people, when uncomfortable, will hide their discomfort behind a blank face and bland delivery. This approach rarely engages listeners and helps them ignore you.

10. Be overly emotional. While some emotion is engaging, people that constantly project great anger, fear, hype, or even incredible joy soon wear out the listener. Emotional energy is contagious and when set to hyper-drive, you can overwhelm the listener’s natural ability to connect.

Most of us have some inherent ability to ruin our messages. However, by focusing on these ten tips, you can help ensure your efforts to share a message will be wasted.

Or you can focus on avoiding these problems and making a conscious effort to think about not only your message but how you share it with others.


Glenn S. Phillips is the author of Nerd-to-English: Your Everyday Guide to Translating Your Business, Your Messages, and Yourself. His website, www.nerdtoenglish.com, will lead you to more information about effective communication training, risk assessments and genuinely helpful tips. You can email Glenn directly at glennsphillips@nerdtoenglish.com.

© 2011 All Rights Reserved.  Glenn S. Phillips, Forte’ Incorporated. (205) 985-1111


About the Author

Glenn S. Phillips works with leaders who want to leverage technology and understand risks within. An author and blogger, Glenn is often quoted in national media, plays a really ugly tuba (it even has a bullet hole) and is a fan of dark chocolate and great puns.