I was working with a very well known politician, he had been the Speaker of the legislature of a major southern state. He was now running for another office, and was about to announce, in the next couple of days I was brought in as his media consultant and media trainer. Were sitting there in his home, going over a standard media training, what I always do, getting comfortable on how you look on TV, then talking about the messaging. So if you're running for office, part of your message has to answer the question. Why are you running for this office? So I asked him that question.
And he said, Let's because I want to do this, and I want to do this, I want to do this. I want this and I'm trying to keep up writing it down or putting it on poster boards. We're writing it down. before you knew it. The house was practically covered with messages as to why he wanted to run now he fancied himself a very serious public policy person, very intellectual. But when I asked him, Why are you running Her office, he had to say hundreds and hundreds of things.
Now, once you're in office, there are hundreds of things you have to do. Maybe thousands. But you can't run on a platform of doing hundreds of things for candidates, and for all the other voters in your district just doesn't work that way. So this was my fault as a trainer was fairly early in my training business, my my training career before you know what we had spent five, six hours brainstorming on messages. So now we had to do the compression down to three messages quickly, and he wouldn't do it and he wouldn't do it and he wouldn't do it. We almost had to just arbitrarily pick three.
And then we had about five minutes to practice interviews and practices three messages did not end. Well. What happened during the campaign when he was interviewed his announcement and every other time. Every time he spoke, he said something different. Every time someone asked him, Why are you running for office, he said 10 new things. Nothing ever resonated.
And he lost his bid for public office. Now, I'm not proud of how that training but I've like to think I've learned a lot since then I now impose a very strict discipline on how much time you could spend on brainstorming messages. A lot of times people have this mistaken notion that, oh, I don't want to dumb things down. I'm a smart person. I want to respect the audience. All that's great.
But it actually takes more intellect to put your messages in priority than it does to just dump them all out on a table. When you have 500 messages. There's really no difference between that and having no message. So why do I tell that story I want people to realize you don't get extra credit. As a candidate or anyone trying to communicate to the public, by more and more and more and more and more, you cannot spend a disproportionate amount of your time in the brainstorming mode. That's the easiest thing to do.
For most people. It's fun. It's intellectually interesting. But it doesn't help you actually communicate. You've got to spend as much time if not more time, narrowing your messages to the top three coming up with soundbites, leaving time for rehearsal. If not, you're going to end up losing whether at the ballot box or at the cash register.