Time For a Change #5: The Power of One Page

by William Reed on March 8, 2012

The benefits of brevity

Considering the value of your time, would you rather receive a one page summary, or a 50 page report? People don’t want to go deeper unless they have first been convinced of the value by a short summary, a great title, or a brief introduction. Books are sold by browsing the cover and table of contents. Samples always lead sales.

If you want to earn the attention of your listener a one page summary is not only a courtesy, it is a requirement. If the short version is good, the long version is bound to be even better.

What makes your one page powerful?

Here are the essential ingredients which make your message powerful, especially when you nest it on a single page.

  • Understandable. Expressing your message in compact form creates a key for understanding. The message is only complete when this key unlocks the same understanding in others. Do not assume that because an idea makes sense to you, that others will understand it just by explanation. Communication is a bridge that helps ideas to pass back and forth between people. That bridge must be easy to cross.
  • Memorable. Once the bridge is crossed, you must ensure that the other person can remember your message. Understanding does not guarantee recall. Unless you provide memory hooks with visual anchors, metaphors, and emotional impact, chances are that your message will be forgotten by nightfall. Make your message stick.
  • Remarkable. If your message is interesting enough, people want to talk or remark about it to others. The easiest way to make your message remarkable is to convey it through a story. Information is ordinary, but knowledge and wisdom makes it extraordinary.
  • Motivating. The real measure of your message is in how it inspires people to take action or change their behavior. Motivation is putting people into motion. If you want a response to your call to action, your message should be enticing, help solve a problem, or promise to make things better.

How to present your message

Whether your message is printed on paper or displayed on a screen, it is more powerful when it appears on a single page. Avoid the temptation to cram as much information as possible in the space available. For effective communication less is more. Select photos or illustrations which reinforce and resonate with your message. Useless or decorative clip art will only dilute your message. It is more effective to integrate a powerful phrase with good graphic design. A good source of information on how to do this is Garr Reynold’s blog Presentation Zen.

The need for attractive and informative display of visual information has created a new media form known as infographics. To see the variety of creative ways in which information can be graphically displayed, look at examples of social media infographics. News and business magazines are another excellent source of ideas and infographics.

The Mandala Chart is a 3×3 matrix which structures a group of eight ideas around a central theme on a single page. Each idea on the chart is indexed by a letter or number, so it is easy to navigate and present to others. The art and applications of creating Mandala Charts is covered in depth in my Flexible Focus column on activegarage.com

One Sheets are a compact way of displaying information such as a speaker’s bio, a seminar, or product description. Roger C. Parker has written a number of excellent articles on how to create One Sheets as a personal branding tool, including Best Practices and 6 Questions your One Sheet must answer. This tool serves as a promotional poster, and is often better than a brochure.

You can download a Mandala chart here, summarizing these ideas with questions to help you express your ideas with ONE PAGE POWER.

You are the message

The messenger is always more important than the message. No matter how good your graphics, your message will fall flat if you lack confidence or authenticity in how you present it.

Examples of professional slides and graphics can make you feel like you cannot do this without hiring a graphic artist. However, there are many ways to create quality one page presentations on your own. You can model the professional graphic designers without directly copying them by using ideas and elements that you like. You will be far more effective at presenting something you have created yourself, than by showing something you simply found on the Internet, and people will instantly know the difference.

The discipline of expressing your ideas on a single page helps you find the essential elements of your message. Remove anything that you might be tempted to include, if it is not directly related to your central theme.

The most effective way to present your slide, proposal, or one sheet is to read it aloud. Leave it with the other person as a summary of what you present, as a supplement not a substitute for your presentation. If you cannot convey your message clearly in conversation, chances are that it will not be much clearer on paper.

NoteCalligraphy by William Reed. 書面 (shomen) means document. The message is that what goes on paper should be full of life energy

William ReedWilliam Reed specializes in applying practical wisdom from Japanese and Asian culture to solving the problems of modern business and living. He is the author of the Flexible Focus column on Active Garage, the syndicated column Creative Career Path and the book A Zoom Lens for Your life. William is also a Representative Director and Co-Founder of EMC QUEST Corporation, which provides Coaching for Communication and Change, World Class Speaking™, and Accelerated Action with GOALSCAPE™.
Share

Related Articles

Previous post:

Next post: