The CEO of a big consumer products company was preparing for his annual meeting and announced that he had eight important points he wanted to cover. I explained that this would have been counterproductive, because people can’t retain more than one idea at a time. So we redesigned the approach. In the end, he wound up with just a single message. But he was still able to make all eight points—because we positioned each point as a part of one overriding theme. In other words, all the points were just another way of expressing the message.

The design I am talking about is what I call the rocket.

Picture every talk, lecture, speech, conversation, or presentation as a rocket ship—a design elegantly simple, ...

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