Make Your Message Almost As Vital as Air

Kare Anderson
3 min readDec 12, 2021

Do people stop listening before you stop talking? Being quotable is essential to attracting more options into your life. Without it you may be rich, smart, hardworking, and even attractive and good hearted yet you are likely to lose to the person who paints a more compelling picture.

To become the top-of-mind choice in your profession or market, make your message almost as vital as oxygen. It is deceptively simple. To be remembered and repeated, include at least one of the three elements of A.I.R. in your message:

Motivate people to take some first action, however small, and they are more likely to take another. Reduce the number of actions it takes for them to participate or to buy. To secure connection with your intended audience or market, aspire to offer the equivalent ease of Amazon Prime’s one-click buying.

Early in some of my keynotes I’ll sometimes say, “Turn to the most normal-looking person near you, shake hands, and ask them to be your partner” which usually evokes startled laughter as they look around. Then I add, “Move quickly or your options may get even more odd,” causing a second wave of titters. They turn their bodies, smile and mirror each other in shaking hands — all behaviors that make them feel more open, and closely connected to each other and to me. That’s because these actions evoke their warm side and make them look and act more alike.

Make your message so unexpected, novel, provocative or otherwise odd that they are compelled to pay attention even if they are supposed to be doing something else. “Love of the new,” or neophilia, is hardwired into our brains at the deepest levels according to Winifred Gallagher, author of New who wrote that we “are attuned to things that are new or unfamiliar because they convey vital information about potential threats and resources.”

Interestingness is perhaps the most powerful cue for grabbing attentions when other messages are always fighting for our attention.

For example, instead of admonishing Texas for dumping garbage on the roadside, a public service campaign appealed to their Texas pride with the behavior-changing, actionable slogan, “Don’t mess with Texas.” Piggybacking on the long-running advertising campaign for milk, some blood banks appealed for donations with the pithy call for action “Got blood?” (Being brief also helps these slogans be memorable.)

When you hear a speaker who appears to be speaking directly to you, or you read about a situation that you are facing, you are much more likely to remember it. Playing on the familiar police order, “Step away from car” the clever headline, “Step Away From the Device” can be quickly understood, relevant — and actionable for many of us who spend too much time with our screens.

You can increase relevance by getting specific sooner. That may mean you capture fewer people overall — but you will capture more of the right people, the people you need to reach. A specific example proves the general conclusion, not the reverse. Yet most conversations, speeches and even advertising campaigns begin with generalizations. By beginning with background, or qualifiers, as we instinctively do we are creating underbrush to obscure our point. Only the most optimistic will remain listening, thinking. “With all the manure in here, there’s got to be a pony in here somewhere.”

Look for the specific detail that can buttress your general conclusion, your main differentiating benefit, and start with it. Then build your story, point by point, like stepping stones across the pond, keeping us involved with you.

Crafting a memorable message will make you more quotable, will keep you at the top of people’s minds, and will ultimately inject your life with more opportunity and adventure.

In conversation listen then ask follow-up questions to both show an interest and depend your understanding of what you heard. It can also put you on the path to find a mutual interest that can boost mutual interest in discussing and acting on. This approach also enables you to attract and involve more diverse allies thus collectively able to see and discuss more sides of situation (potential problem or opportunity) and then collectively make smarter decisions and actions faster



Kare Anderson

Emmy-winner, TED:OpportunityMakers/over 2.5 mil views, MutualityMatters+Be Connected & Quotable