The 8 Minute Rule Of Messaging


Your best-told story in the right way, at the right time, to the right audience, with a compelling connection to the urgency of the need.

Many people make big mistakes in their federal meetings simply by failing to manage the clock.  They go into the meeting without a specific plan and go into sales mode.  They miss that the meeting must unfold in a particular sequence and very tight timeline.

Washington, DC meetings are usually scheduled for 30 minutes – but you don’t want to use that entire 30 minutes.  You want to be respectful of your audience.  That means you get in there; you have a little chit-chat.  I emphasize little.  You then ease into your topic.  Because you are the expert and you know what you’re going to talk about, you drive the conversation using only eight minutes.

My 8-Minute Rule of Messaging  is designed to tell any story in minutes, no matter how complex.  It mirrors what Congress uses to convey information across offices and committees, the congressional white paper.  A white paper is your story on a single sheet of paper and includes four essential parts that can be conveyed highly efficiently: 

The issue—why what you are talking about matters.  People have to care about an issue to gain traction and momentum.  There must be a logical connection to a constituency, a requirement, or an identifiable need. 

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The background—how we got here.  Why is this problem or condition persisting, what’s been done up to now, and why must it be addressed?

The discussion—a review of the options that could be brought forward told in a way that positions you and your solution as the most logical choice.

The recommendation—what specifically needs to happen to implement your idea?

When you can tell even the most complex story in a matter of minutes, you demonstrate respect for your audience and keep them engaged the entire time.  If your story starts to get wordy or complicated, you lose the audience and they mentally move on to the next event on their overloaded calendar.  Using the 8-Minute Rule of MessagingSM allows you to get your points across and give time back to your audience, the most valuable resource in their day.

Your story needs to connect a need and your solution.


Where You Say It.

As important as what you say is where you say it.  Given the movement of a budget’s policy and funding decisions, there are times and places when communicating with government officials makes complete sense or no sense!  While the budget is being prepared in the executive branch, its details are not publicly available.  Executive branch officials are prohibited from revealing specific details of a pending budget before it is officially released to Congress by the President. 

That doesn’t mean government officials won’t engage with you to receive your inputs and suggestions, nor does it suggest officials won’t publicly offer general commentary in public fora such as trade shows and panels.  Your ability to influence executive branch decisions is governed by timing specific considerations such as budget delivery stages (in the budget phase) or the release of a request for proposal (in the acquisition and contracting phases).  As the warning labels on sales promotions sometimes say, “certain restrictions apply.” Timing a meeting to suit your travel schedule demonstrates your need for more understanding of your federal audience.  They’ve categorized you before you walk into the room.

If you were to go to Congress with an idea on a subject about which the executive branch has not formulated a position, you’re wasting your time and that of your congressional counterpart.  It’s common for small business owners to invite their local member of Congress to visit their facility.  During a great tour and meet and greet with employees (also voters), a condition or shortcoming may be described for the Congressman.  That engagement is very unlikely to move the needle on your issue.  Why?  Because it’s shared in a setting where it will quickly be forgotten, when a staffer responsible for the portfolio of the issue may not be present, and the timing of the tour may be out of phase with the many processes described above.

To learn more about THE 8-MINUTE RULE OF MESSAGING℠ and to discuss the consulting services offered by Gene Moran, schedule a call.

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