Communicate clearly in 6 words.... Really?
Is it REALLY possible?
It would be pretty awesome if your points could be instantly understood and easily shared in just a few words.
Yeah. That sounds too good to be true.
But.... if it is true, think how it would change your credibility and influence.
6 words work
It's not a gimmick. Or impossible.
And it's effective.
Years ago I read a 6 word description of a John Mayer album (Born and Raised) in a 2012 Southwest Airline magazine:
“Bluesy rocker takes a country road."
18 months later I still remembered the description.
Here's the deal: I wasn't a John Mayer fan. I couldn't name 1 of his songs or albums, but still I could recall those 6 words.
Inspired by the simplicity of the message, I wrote my mission in 6 words:
"Commit my voice to those without."
When I shared my mission with others, it instantly resonated with them. And it made me realize how powerful 6 words could be.
Then I challenged myself:
What if I could communicate every point clearly in 6 words. Or less?
The perfect bite size - 6 words
6 words is a summary that people can instantly relate to and respond to.
Even highly complex and complicated ideas can be expressed in only 6 words.
Take a cue from headlines.
Here’s an example:
I recently read an article in the Wall Street Journal about researchers developing liquid based, tunable, eyeglasses lenses. The lenses can instantly correct to the optimal prescription for different distances. The implication? No more needing both reading glasses and distance glasses. No more squinting at the small print. No more bifocals.
The technology and the research is no doubt highly complex, but the headline was only 10 words:
Could This Pair of Eyeglasses Mean the End of Bifocals?
Here's my headline in 6 words:
Prototype eyeglasses could end bifocals glasses
6 words. One point. Pretty perfect.
Ready to make a crystal clear point in 6 words?
Think of your 6 words as an irresistible headline that attracts interest
DON'T try to explain everything. It's just 6 words.
ATTRACT interest so people engage and ask for more information.
Think of the ONE point you want them to know
Remember, you’re dealing with audiences that consume information in headlines, tweets and emojis, so discipline yourself to the ONE point you want them to know.
No need to over complicate the message.
Try short sentences or phrases
Even 6 words can be broken into shorter segments.
I just expressed to a best selling author how much I appreciated his book:
"Perfect timing. Super practical. Worked brilliantly.”
Be ready to engage with 1-3 supporting points
Your 6 words aren’t just a message to be shared.
They can also become an opening introduction to your topic, so be prepared with a few more details.
Let’s use the prototype lenses as an example
Bill: Hey Rebecca, what are you reviewing?
Me: Hi Bill. I’ve been looking at new medical technology. In 6 words: “Prototype eyeglasses could end bifocal glasses.”
Bill: Whoa… That’s new. Tell me more.
Me: Here are some top lines:
- According to the Wall Street Journal Researchers at the University of Utah are developing self-adjusting glasses that can provide optimal focus for different distances.
- The lenses are liquid based and adjust based on a distance meter built into the frames.
- They could be used for people with aging eyes who dislike bifocals or juggling with different glasses.
You can use 6 word summaries for bullet points, quick updates, headlines and recommendations. Anywhere you need to make a memorable statement, a 6 word summary gives it more impact.
You can use more than 6 words…
I like the discipline of 6 words and the focus it gives me.
However, it’s not always practical.
Keep your message to less than 10 words and as close to 6 as possible. That way you're sticking to 1 point without over complicating the message.
Here are 3 templates to make your point in 6 words
To illustrate the templates, I'm using an example where the speaker is leading a new social media marketing program and describing their strategy.
Focus on the differentiator or benefit
[Statement of need] + [differentiator or benefit]
10x millennial engagement. No budget increase
10x engagement in 1/10th the time
2x engagement and recall. 10x reach
Focus on transformation
[Transform/translate current state] to [future state]
- Convert occasional customers into raving fans
Focus on desired outcome
[Verb] + [Desire]
Revolutionize how we attract, engage, convert
Recapture and re-inspire inactive millennial consumers
Engage customers everywhere on any device
Improve your clarity, credibility and influence in just 6 words
6 words is a message length people can instantly understand, and easily share.
It's also the starting point to build a focused pitch, presentation or update that can be delivered in few sentences.
If you want to improve your clarity and effectiveness, this is a perfect technique.
Be amazing in only 6 words!
Want to keep the templates handy?
Click the picture to download the infographic.
Photo / Shutterstock