5 Ways to Match the Message to a Mission

If you speak to public audiences but do not match the message to a mission, you may inspire but you’ll rarely transform. Lasting transformation occurs when your message connects to a larger mission and people align their actions to that mission.

I’ve made this mistake many times. You may have also. It doesn’t have to happen again.

Match the Message to a  Mission

A few years ago I arrived at a conference. I anticipated some powerful speakers. In fact, many speakers “hit a home run” that week. But one of them still stands out in my mind to this day.

Rather than gaining a proper understanding of his audience, this speaker proceeds to deliver the same speech he likely gave at the previous 50 engagements. Occasionally, some speakers can pull this approach off without the jarring effect I felt that day. Unfortunately, he wasn’t one of them.

Some people took copious notes and appeared to benefit greatly from the speech. However, about halfway through I realized that he never took the time to match the message to a mission. I don’t think it matched up to any mission of his and definitely not to any mission of the audience.

Although their missions loosely aligned with one another, everyone felt uneasy that his content missed the mark. It felt like he never took the time to match the message to a mission. It wasn’t readily apparent how his message would help the audience to accomplish their primary goals. The elephant in the room grew bigger and bigger. The speaker became more and more irrelevant to the audience. The audience struggled to engage throughout. The speaker delivered a quality message but never thought to match the message to a mission. (at least not to a mission relevant to the audience)

Most anyone who has spoken to an audience has faced this challenge at one time or another. Lets take a look at a few ways public speakers can match the message to a mission.

5 Ways to Match the Message to a Mission

1) Identify the Mission

This steps may seem obvious. But you will rarely match the message to a mission (and definitely not to the right one) if you don’t take time to first identify the mission. (for more on what a mission is, see this brief Wikipedia article).

Many organizations have this information on their website. Others use terms similar to mission and you have to do a little hunting. Other organizations have what I call a “shadow mission” that they truly seek to accomplish even though it is different than the stated mission on their website. Watch out for shadow missions.

2) Clarify the Message You Will Deliver

Please, please, please don’t show up without preparing your message in advance. Demonstrate the respect your audience deserves by preparing in advance.

You will struggle to create message and mission alignment without first clarifying the mission and the message.

3) Make Sure You Match the Message to a Mission

Now that you have identified both the message and the mission, you will often (or at least occasionally) find misalignment. What should you do in this scenario?

If you have the freedom to change your message, take few minutes to see where you could change the content. This is necessary in order to match the message with a mission. Doing so will put the message in terms your audience appreciates.  It will create more lasting impact on the individuals present and the organization.

What if you do not have the freedom to change your message? (i.e. the organization requested a message on a specific topic) Either speak with the event organizer or focus mission alignment in the action steps or metaphors that you share. If you look for it, you will find many ways to align your message with their mission.

4) Align the Message with the Most Important Mission (not just one of yours)

I’ve seen countless speakers make a crucial mistake here (I’m one of them). It is much easier to match your message to a mission than it is to match your message to the most important mission of the organization to which you’ve received an invitation to speak.

To do step four well you must take the time to speak with the organization in advance. Listen to where they want to go. Get a good idea for what they want to accomplish in the year(s) to come.

5) Connect Your Message’s Action Steps To The Audience’s Mission

After you have connected your message to the mission of the organization, make sure you also match your action steps to the audience’s mission (you can’t do this if you haven’t clarified the actions you want your audience to take). When you challenge an audience to take action on account of your message, you push them forward towards accomplishing something. I doubt you ever want them to “just do something” that does not align with the overall mission of the organization. Good luck getting invited back after that.

Help the audience put their “boots on the ground” and get to work accomplishing the mission their leadership set for them. What a way to ensure audience and organizational satisfaction. Help your audience accomplish what they know they must do. Show their leadership your value by moving the organization forward in the direction they aspired to before your arrival.

Which of these five areas do you need to work on today? Few of us have all of these “down.”

Strive to deliver missional messages; speeches that match the message to a mission. If you do so, the audience, the organization, and you will all walk away satisfied. They will know they spent their time well accomplishing what matters most, the mission.

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This post is part of a series of posts on Public Speaking. Feel free to check out any post in the series.

1) Public Speaking Tips for Leaders
2) 10 Intentional Public Speaking Gestures
3) 10 Ways to Clarify Your Message As a Public Speaker
4) 5 Tips to Clarify Your Intended Result for Your Audience
5) 7 Ways to Begin Your Public Speech With a Bang
6) 7 Steps to Practice Beforehand as a Public Speaker
7) 10 Ways to Use Repetition in Public Speaking
8) 7 Step Process to Plan For Silence in Your Speaking
9) 5 Ways to Match the Message to a Mission
10) 10 Ways to Evaluate Your Public Speaking