What do you want to say?

How do you get complicated theories into simple sentences that people can engage with on social media?

Delegates from Quattrain Business Leaders Course

What do you want to say?

How do you get your point across in the clearest and most engaging way? It’s a skill which goes to the heart of journalism, but we’ve found that anyone can benefit from insights which journalists use all the time.

In our Think Like A Journalist course we teach people from all walks of life – whether academics, lawyers or from the business world – to express themselves in ways that get people interested. Here are some tips for turning what you do into a story.

What’s the heart of the matter?

Think big: what is the fundamental thing that you want to achieve here? Then describe it in a very specific way, eg: not ‘to restructure working culture’ (what does that even mean?) but ‘to make this place somewhere women like to work.’

What’s the story?

Stories are personal, and can be understood by everyone. So, make your point as if you were talking to your 12-year-old nephew, or your 60-year-old aunt. Picture them. Will they understand what you are saying? Again, boil it down to what matters.

Tell the story in one sentence, using clear, everyday language

Practice in front of a mirror then try it out with a few non-expert friends. Do they understand? Have you answered the fundamental questions: why does this matter and to whom?

Ask a question

This is often a good place to begin. Think of a rhetorical question: eg, ‘how do women get their voices heard in the workplace?’ Your idea, project, company, will then provide the answer.

Talk about people

People are interested in people. Be specific: how is this going to affect Mrs Jarvis, not ‘people in middle income countries’? Tell her story.

Use everyday language

Jargon often hides the fact that you don’t really know what you’re talking about. Boil it down to the simplest (but not simplistic) language possible.

Like journalism itself, this looks easy on the outside, but it’s surprisingly difficult in practice. Remember: it takes intelligence to be simple. Good luck!