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Your Message and The 5% Audience

People never seem to pay attention or understand what's being said, why do I have to keep repeating myself? We have said that our culture is X or that our priority is Y it was perfectly clear! I hear this time and again from leaders at all levels in organisations so often I'm losing count. Frequently it's backed up with I've told people this, we mentioned this in a briefing, I wrote a memo on it or a current favourite we highlighted it in the town hall meeting.

Yep leaders are talking, and by in large with good information or content but who is listening… 

The 5% 

The answer is about 5% of the audience at any one time is truly listening to that single statement or talk or reading that memo. When I say truly listening, I mean listening with the intention to understand what is being said and internalise it with the intention of acting on it. So, what's happening with the other 95% and what can you do about it?

What's Happening 

When you are on your favourite social media platform or browsing through the web have you ever noticed that the same advert or the same post pops up again and again? It may have been last month, yesterday it may even have been an hour ago but there it is again, and you notice it! The reason for this is that 5% again, on average only 5% at most of the target will see and react to the advert of the media post so it's repeated again and again to capture more and more of the audience at other times of the day and week.

Your message then is just 1 of many they will see or hear and since it's a 1-time message it's never going to stick. The chances are that the other 95% are catching bits of the message but not all of it. There are so many other distractions going on all the time that it's getting harder and harder to scoop up and retain everything we are told or must read. It's not intentional for most, for some perhaps it is intentional because frankly people have come before you with the same or a similar message and it was a flash in the pan why would this be any difference.

For that other 95% you are hoping that your one time message is going to cut through everything that is going on in their life and stick, guess what, even if you are the most inspiring and motivational speaker it's still not going to stick if you deliver it once, assume that it's stuck and move on. So the problem then is really not them, it's you!

Capturing the other 95% 

So here is the 1st part of the puzzle, we already know that saying something once is going to miss the majority of people, so how many people will you pick up by saying it twice, three times, four? What's the magic number? The answer is, there is no magic number and there isn't a limit to the number of times you should be putting your message across. You have to repeat it every chance you get, you have to re-enforce things that are contributing to and supporting the message or focus every time you see it and also things that distract from it. You also have to vary the message, just saying the same lines time and time again not only turn it into a broken record but will switch people off, the words no longer feel real, honest, so remember you are not a robot, make the discussions human and organic.

Words, Pictures and Actions 

Also remember that a vast number of your people are not auditory people, they may pick things up better with pictures or actions, so think about how you and your team are modelling what you are saying. If you say we must watch the money, we are spending but then take 1st class trips then that's a clear message it's not that big a deal.

Build a Communication Plan 

When you want to get your message out about your culture, your focus, business changes or the next big adventure you are embarking on stop for a bit and think about how you will communicate this message and in what mediums. What is the message for each level of the organisation, what things must each level of the organisation communicate to their teams, when and how will they do that? You need to plan this out as a calendar of events for the big communication points and then ensure that these points are followed up with smaller group and 1 to 1 conversation to support what has been said, answer questions and give reassurance.


If you want to get past only 5% of your team hearing the message, then you need a plan and you need to be prepared to repeat your message at every chance you get and show how that impacts the person or group you are talking to. You have to model what you are saying and follow through on what you are saying. Saying things once and hoping that it sticks is just not going to cut it, no matter how much you want it too.

Get In Touch

If you need any support in developing or improving your culture, focus and execution of your plans then click here to make an appointment and find out how we can help you Make Things, Better

You can also call John on 0211649739 to set up a meeting 


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Wednesday, 22 May 2019

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