Successful communication starts with these three things
Successful communication is pretty important when you consider the cost of poor communication.
Results from a survey of 400 companies showed that poor communication cost them a total of more than $37 billion! And other research has proven that 30% of projects fail because of poor communication.
Yet having a scientific approach to successful communication can help build a company, as other research shows:
- Cutting turnover by over 200% and employee absenteeism in half
- Increasing donations to non profits by 40%
- Outperforming competitors by 202%
As I work with people in business I find there are three key infuencers that people forget to consider and so fail when crafting messages:
All communication in a professional context is purpose driven. Yet so often that purpose is never written down or agreed among stakeholders. The result is a confusing message that is severely limited in its ability to achieve a positive income.
When drafting any kind of message, it’s essential to write the purpose down so that you can see it throughout the drafting process. This allows you to make sure your purpose is right during the planning stage. It then keeps you on track through the drafting stage and gives you something to measure your effectiveness by at the end.
Also be sure to describe your purpose in terms of what you want the communication piece to achieve for those who consume it. Some people think of the purpose being a description for the opening of a document or the overall objective.
To make your purpose easy to measure, it’s good to have three elements:
- Action word (such as explain, convince, instruct, or persuade)
- Audience you wish to reach
- What you want your communication piece to achieve
Think of your purpose as being a mission statement for your communication.
If you do not have consensus among stakeholders for your purpose, it is best to spend time outlining a clear purpose that everyone agrees on before drafting your communication.
Successful communication does not happen without an audience – let alone any communication. Regardless of how well you explain or present something. Therefore, you need to take time understanding your audience.
This doesn’t just mean identifying the name or a position of your audience, such as the “executive council” of XYZ Corp, or the “Logistics Division”.
You need to know your audienc well so you can connect with them through your message or communication piece.
At the very least, make sure you know their needs, attitudes and wants. Taking into account your audience’s needs in your communication goes a long way to bringing them on board. Understanding their attitude towards your subject is just as powerful. If you know your audience does not agree with you, you can take steps in your messaging to netralise this.
The more you know your audience, the more successful you’ll be when communicating to them. Also consider things like their education/experience, work culture, and preferences for receiving information.
How often have you heard “we need to send an email to say…” or “we need an intranet article on…”?
Most people get the medium they are working with wrong. They start their whole communication thinking with the medium.
If the goal is about getting a message to your audience, it’s critical to know first what your message is and second who your audience is. With this information you can decide what the medium for delivering that message is.
For example, lets imagine your sales staff are always on the road and don’t have time to stop and read lengthy documents or emails. Sedning a message through either of those mediums is going to limit your ability to get your message across.
If you know they like to listen to audio whilst on the road, it would make sense to record a podcast for them to listen to as they travel to a client site.
Also, when choosing a medium, it is important to use the language of the medium. Videos use lots of moving pictures and sounds to keep the viewer engaged. Having a static slide on screen for five seconds will lose your audience quickly.
Conclusion for successful communication
If you’re serious about creating successful communication pieces you must always:
- Clarify your purpose
- Understand your audience
- Choosing the best medium to send your message is not rocket science.
Most people forget to do this properly and so limit their communication success.
I offer practical steps on this in the pages of my book Bullseye! – getting the RIGHT message to the RIGHT audience. They are part of the overall steps I outline in my university validated communication methodology and can help you to become a great communicator regardless of your situation and the medium your are using.