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How to develop talking points

Commonly drafted in the world of politics and public relations talking points are a set of key messages that can be used again and again during conversations, debates and discussions with media or target audiences.  They’re used by an organization’s spokesperson as a reminder to stay on topic and can also be used to help you draft other communications collateral (eg: letters, speeches, press releases, etc). They’re not meant to be shared verbatim with external sources, but rather used internally within your business or organization.

Communications or marketing strategists (in-house or outsourced) will determine what are the hot button issues around a particular topic in your industry or business and develop talking points to be used as answers to probable questions from media or consumers.

Talking points are great for helping redirect or frame issues in the manner in which you’d like your target audiences to see them.

Talking points are helpful in the ag industry when you are consistently met with the same questions or criticisms. Once you’ve memorized them you’ll feel far more confident when approached. This confidence will exude in your answers as well and the people to whom you’re speaking will consequently feel more assured. They will also begin to look to you for future answers so you will become a thought leader and influencer in your own right – helping advance your industry and educate consumers even more.

To avoid having your talking points perceived as superficial, robotic repetitions of irrelevant facts keep the following in mind:

  • If you want people to take away only one important thing from your conversation make that your first point.
  • Add sub-points to the main one as needed, but remember people remember things best in threes.
  • Anticipate what questions your audiences or typical media outlets interested in your business/organization/industry will ask. If you’ve been in the game long enough these should come to you easily.
  • Don’t be the king/queen of attitude: be respectful. Good discourse (and solutions) comes from mutually respectful discussion.
  • Emphasize win-win solutions if applicable.
  • Be clear and concise; don’t overload your audience with too much extraneous information.
  • Include a call to action: What do you want your listeners to do? Close with this point.

Before drafting your talking points, think about the best arguments and point of view of the other side then craft your points to pre-empt those arguments.

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