How to communicate the message, for real.


The art of communication is the language of leadership – James Humes.

James C. Humes wrote at least 20 books on public speaking and modern history. A former speechwriter to 5 presidents, he is also one of the co-authors of the text on the Apollo 11 lunar plaque – ‘Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the moon, July 1969 A.D. We came in peace for all mankind.’

To have one’s message stay on forever (at least for as long as the lunar surface exists) is a remarkable achievement. Can we all write a message that stay on the surface of the moon? Maybe not. However, I believe that we all  can strive to craft messages that stay in people’s minds and move them to action. To that end, I was glad for the chance to meet Ed Gruwez, who helps leaders and experts create simplicity in a complex world. His talk, ‘To the Point’ was honest, interesting, and just as the topic promised, to the point.

Ed Gruwez Shanghai 2017
Ed Gruwez at the Global WIAL Conference, Shanghai Oct 2017

He started with 2 powerful questions:

  1. What do we want to change in people’s minds?
  2. How do we get them from here to there?

He shared with us how important it is to get into different modes as we design our communication:

  1. Thinking: be the philosopher. Ask the big questions – Who is my audience? What’s my objective? What’s my strategy?
  2. Logic: be the engineer. Be clear about the shortest route from point A to point B in order to craft the most simple way to help the audience understand.
  3. Story: be the artist. Catch attention. Illustrate key points. Make it memorable.
  4. Media: be the carpenter. Prepare the materials e.g. slide deck.

What helped burn his message on my brain is the question he asked towards the end of his session – if there is time to focus on only one of the 4 steps in the method, what would it be? The answer is step 1: being clear about the WHO. Knowing who we will communicating to is key to connecting our purpose to action. His advice struck a chord with me. It reminded me of the many times I have missed the chance to make my point because I did not fully consider who my audience was. I am still learning and will continue to follow good advice like Ed’s. The beauty of the method is how useful it is; I have followed it as I design my business presentations, articles, even social media posts!

I urge you to start thinking about your own audience. Who is communicating with you? What do they want to know from you? What is important to them? What excites them? What annoys them? Even as I am writing this post I am thinking about those questions and I believe you would be annoyed by long rambling posts, right? So I will conclude here. Effective communication does not have to be painful. It can be exciting and meaningful-  if we design it to fit our audience.

Let me know what you think in the comments section. Thanks!


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