Know your audience.
That’s what almost every writing coach or speaking mentor will tell you. If you want to get your message across with the biggest punch, you need to understand who will be receiving that message, and deliver it accordingly.
When Sweetie and Peaches were ages 5 and 3, I wanted them to grasp how important it was to wear seat belts the whole time they were riding in a car. This was back in the day when kids were out of infant car seats by the time they were 2. The next step was a booster seat, which was basically a raised platform to sit on where the child was held in place by the vehicle’s lap-belt/shoulder-strap combination. It was often uncomfortable.
So one day after I had buckled them into the back seat and before I had started the car, I told them a story that had been in the news that week. I thought it was relevant and timely.
I want to tell you about a little boy your age. He was riding in the back seat of his Mommy’s car. He wasn’t wearing his seat belt. Then, his Mommy couldn’t help it but, the car she was driving crashed and the little boy … he wasn’t wearing his seat belt and he flew right out the window.
Three-year-old Peaches was completely spellbound. Her eyes grew bigger when I mentioned the crash. At the end of the story, her little mouth opened in awe and her eyes grew as big as they could get. She turned to look at the window and then turned back to me.
In wonder she said, "He could fly?”
That’s when I knew my message had gone over her head and right out the window.