Much has been written about making your message sticky.   Here’s a different perspective on the stickiness question: Is your organization velcro or teflon?

Let me explain.

When we work with clients who are trying to bring their vision to life, they inevitably come to a place in the process where they need to communicate with their organization and perhaps business partners.  But they want to do more than just inform.  They want to engage, energize, dare I say excite people.  They want their people’s eyes to shine and their feet to move.

Leaders rightly think carefully about the message. But even with all of that planning, sometimes the message just slips on by their organization barely noticed. And here’s my theory: maybe the message was fine, but the organization is just teflon. Nothing sticks. It’s a nice feature on a frying pan. It’s exasperating as a leader.

Why does this happen?

I submit a few reasons and invite your input too:

  • Teflon Coat 1: The track record of the organization: How many messages, initiatives, and “new days” have these people been subjected to over the years? If the organization has started things but never finished them, tried and failed without acknowledging the failure, or announced great intentions without consistent follow-through, you can add a nice layer of slick teflon.
  • Teflon Coat 2: The track record of the messenger: If the person delivering the message has an unknown or spotty record of following through on promises, add another coat of teflon.
  • Teflon Coat 3: The context for the message: Leaders most often choose emails as the way to deliver a message.  (Spray on more teflon – you lose all of the energy and personality of a more in-person message.) If they deliver the message in person, they often hide behind a scripted powerpoint presentation. (Slightly better than email, but still suspect and rarely engaging.)

How do you make your organization more velcro and less teflon?

  1. Keep your promises.
  2. Follow through.
  3. Acknowledge partial successes and outright failures (resist the urge for straight happy talk!).
  4. Choose messengers with street cred.
  5. Put personality, passion, and interactivity into the delivery. (That’s right, communicate in person or on video.  Grab a marker and draw it. Ditch the deck.)

Then that sticky message may just stick after all.