How to Create Messages that are Compelling


Do you need to get a message across?  If you have something important to say, it can be daunting to know how to present it in such a way that people will be interested, let alone remember it.   The ability to get your message across successfully is critical when it concerns an important change in direction, an issue of health and safety such as a firedrill, or a presentation to a client where you want to outdo the competition.

Yet, a lot of business communications are very dull and require a high degree of concentration from us if we are not to become distracted.  NLP offers many ways of making our messages more compelling.  I’ll touch on just one of them here.

I’ll never forget visiting the Thackray Museum in Leeds, a museum which tells the story of medicine.  Although it was a family outing, I wasn’t looking forward to it because I wasn’t particularly interested in the subject matter.  Imagine my surprise to find that the museum was so clever in bringing periods of medical history to life that I was reluctant to come away!  I can still remember aspects of our visit years later.   How did they make it so interesting?  By creating lifelike scenes and models, by playing filmclips and soundtracks, and even creating authentic smells.

One key way to make a message memorable is to use media and language that appeal to all the senses and fire the imagination.  There are particular words that are responsible for making a novel page-turning, a poem breathtaking and a presentation lively.  They are called PREDICATES in NLP.  Some examples are APPEAR, BRIGHT, CLOUDY, COLOURFUL, DRAW, EXPOSE, GRAPHIC, HORIZON, IMAGINE, LIGHT, MELODIOUS, OUTSPOKEN, QUESTION, RESONANCE, SHRILL, SING, TRANSLATE, UNFEELING, WRENCH.

This is explained by the NLP Communications model  (see my previous blogpost on this). PREDICATES allow us to create a sensory-rich INTERNAL REPRESENTATION in our mind’s eye.

Of course, it is not always appropriate to use language like this in business (and it would not be in rapport).  The vocalbulary we use in education, science and business mostly needs to be objective, impersonal and efficient.  This is called FACTIVE language in NLP.  Examples of  “business words” include ASSUME, BELIEVE, CHANGE, DECIDE, EXPERIENCE, FUTURE, GOAL, LEARN, MODEL, NOTICE, OUTCOME, PROCESS, RECOGNISE, THEORY, UNDERSTAND.  They can be applied to a wide range of general situations.

Can you tell the difference of impact these two types of vocalbulary have upon you?  Successful business communicators know how to switch between them for best results.  Perhaps advertising executives more than others are skilled in engaging the senses in order to capture the attention of consumers within a very short timespan.

The leading UK retailer M&S ran a most successful series of TV advertisements for its food stores for many years by emphasising the sensual experience of eating.  These two adverts were so evocative that most of the UK population can still remember their key theme years later.  Watch them here:

M&S advert no. 1

M&S advert no. 2


  1. Consider a message you have to get across successfully.  Write it down.
  2. Review it, noticing all the factive words you have used.  Replace them with words that appeal to either the visual, auditory or kinesthetic senses.  What difference does it make?

Both images:  Copyright Mind for Business Ltd, all rights reserved

Related posts:

  1. 3 Important Principles of Communications
  2. How NLP Helps Relationships
  3. Are You Missing Some Important Information?

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