Keys to an Effective Message—Story Principles, Focused Messaging and Communication Styles


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It’s crunch time in the legislature and you are finishing up a big, complex project. Now you need to distill all that work into a summary to share with colleagues or constituents. Communications coach Marianna Swallow will guide you through the steps to develop an effective message. She shares the keys to understanding different communication styles, identifying the main takeaway of your message, and using story principles to engage your audience.

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  • Marianna Swallow has been a professional workshop leader and facilitator since 1997, and has worked as a presentation skills coach since 2004. She loves helping her clients become more comfortable in any speaking situation. She is the author of the book "21 Ways to Engage Your Audience." She is a graduate of The Second City Conservatory and holds a bachelor's degree in English and an MFA in creative non-fiction. She sometimes plays the ukulele and can be found telling stories on Chicago’s live lit scene. You can find her at
  • Randy Ford helps nonprofits, small business owners and the public sector tell the stories of the impact they have on the world by bringing traditional storytelling principles into their communications. He also works with families and individuals looking for ways to preserve their legacies. Ford founded First Story Strategies in 2016 after having worked as a journalist, strategic communications professional and congressional aide. He also performs in personal storytelling shows across Chicago.