Best medium to use for your messages or content
Are you choosing the best medium for your messages and content?
So often in business we get told to start with the medium first when trying to get content or a message to our audience. We’re told to “write a document”, “send an email” or “create a PowerPoint pack”. All before anyone asks if this is the best way to get the message to our audience.
We then scratch our heads later wondering why our message failed to achieve what we wanted.
The problem is that most work cultures have the communication process the wrong way around. They don’t think about the communication objective first. Instead they look back at what medium was used “last time” or for the last thirty years.
Medium refers to how you send your message. This could be a document (think business case, proposal, marketing plan or operational procedure), an email, blog, intranet page, video or more.
There are lots of ways to send a message, but what is the best medium for your message? This is always going to change depending on other factors that you need to consider first before choosing the right medium for your audience.
- Audience’s preference for receiving content
- Context for consuming the message
- Type of message and how it will work with your chosen medium
Decide the best medium based on your audience’s preference for consuming content
Each person you communicate has a preference for one medium over others. This might be video since it is easier than reading and a quick way to consume information. Or it might be a blog or email since their computer is always open. Perhaps it is a document because that allows for detailed information.
Are you’re serious about getting your message across to your chosen audience? Then you need to choose the medium that works best with your audience.
There is no point sending out an email to an audience that prefers to watch YouTube videos. Or a group that spends a lot of their time travelling without time for watching videos or reading.
Therefore, don’t just accept an instruction to create a message in a given medium first without knowing it is the best medium for your audience.
Before you choose a medium you need to think of your audience first so you can be sure that you are not wasting your time.
Once you have chosen the right medium for your audience, you need to understand its language to maximise the success of your message
Your best medium for the medium depends on context
When and where are your target audience most likely to consume your message or content?
There is no point creating a great video message if your audience is never going to be near a computer or mobile device when you expect them to consume your message. Similarly, if you know an audience is only going to have spare time whilst driving in the car, you should know that a pdf is not going to work!
I always enjoy reading blogs on trains because it’s a good time to read. Blogs are also easy to read on my mobile phone or device. I know salespeople working on the road often like to listen to podcasts whilst they are driving between clients.
If you have an idea of where your audience is most likely to consume your content, this can help you choose the best medium for your message. Start by eliminating medium won’t work in the context. Then make an educated guess from what is left over based on your audience understanding.
Talking of context, you might also like to consider your audience’s journey. What part of a higher message or series will they be consuming your content or message? In a series of over several weeks (such as a blog series)? Within one of several pages in a sales funnel? Whichever, the medium experience needs to be consistent.
You need to use the language of your medium
Did you know each medium has its own language and nuances?
At a high level, video has a language of constantly changing moving pictures supported by sound and some onscreen text. Without the constant onscreen movement people will just tune out. Given people’s attention spans are limited, videos need to be short if you want them to be effective. This all makes up the “language” of video.
Audio communication – typically podcasts – uses a language of sound comprising voice (and tone), sound effects and music. Why do you think there are so many “whoosh” stinger sounds in commercial radio? They using sound effects as part of the language to keep their audience tuned in at an auditory level.
Written communication use what we traditionally see as language. A mix of words, sentences and paragraphs with nice formatting to get the message across.
Drilling down there are nuances to consider within each medium that makes it work harder for your message.
For example, since we know people don’t have a lot of time to read emails, short and brief emails work more effectively. Unless you’ve got great copywriting that draws the reader in from the first to second to third sentence.
Since blogs are read on the screen, the need to have a particular style to keep the reader reading. Such as simple words, short sentences plus plenty of signpost headings if the blog is lengthy.
If you fail to use the language and nuances of your medium properly, you are severely limiting the effect of your message.
On the other hand, if you know how to use the language properly… then you can increase the effectiveness of your message.
If this makes sense so far, let’s flip the language of the media idea upside down so we can use it practically when choosing the best medium.
Some messages simply suit some media over others.
If you’ve got lots of detailed information that you have to impart you should know this won’t work well on video. Static tables and graphs just don’t work on video. So you should know that video is definitely not the best medium if you have lots of detailed information.
See how this works?
Let’s say you’ve got a short and sweet message. This is likely to work well in an email, on an Intranet page banner, or text message. Maybe even twitter.
The trick is to arm yourself with knowledge of how languages are different across each media you work with. Then think of the type of message you have to send and what medium has the best language to send it.
So next time someone begins the communication process by telling you what medium to use, stop them in their tracks. If you’re serious about getting your content or message out successfully, then you’ll want to use the best medium for the job. That depends on a range of factors that you must know first before committing to a particular medium.
This includes your audience’s preference for getting information, the context they are likely to consume the message in, and the medium with the best language for your message.
A great way to choose the best medium is by following my unviersity validated Bullseye! communication methodology. You can read more about this simple 5 step method in my book Bullseye! – Getting the RIGHT message to the RIGHT audience.
Here’s to your communication success!