Recently, a contact whose opinion I value gave me some feedback on my blog. They told me that whilst they liked the narrative style, it felt like sometimes my message got a bit lost in my thoughts. I really appreciated someone telling me that. In well over 100 posts, I haven’t really heard what people like or dislike. So over the past few weeks, I’ve tried to be a little less wordy and a little more clear. It got me thinking about making sure you get your message across and making sure your voice gets heard. So, following my own advice, here’s my top 3 tips!
1. Connect with your audience – it’s really stressful in working out how to get your message across, and easy to forget that your audience may not understand your message in the same way you do. For example, a senior manger communicating changes in the company to junior colleagues may not grasp the perspective of the junior colleagues. Far from reassuring, the senior may fill them with dread and concern about their job security. If you can’t put yourself in the shoes of your audience, at least talk with people who can, and run your message past them so that you can tweak accordingly.
2. Keep it short & sweet – This is the one I struggle with.! When I first think about what I want to communicate, it clear and simple, then I build on it, embellish it with examples, add a few twists, and before you know it, your original message that was crystal clear has got lost. Examples are good – I value them a lot; telling a story is powerful, too. But there is a real skill in taking your audience on a journey and getting them to understand your message. Here’s where the medium matters – face to face, email, video, or worse, letter? Can people ask you questions directly? Can they see body language? Can they hear the subtly of your tone of voice? The more remote you are from your audience, the less you should embellish your message.
3. Check back on their understanding – No matter how well scripted, well thought through or beautifully designed your communication, it all fails if your audience don’t get it. This comes to life for those of us in Britain when we watch an American TV advert. Excessive white teeth smiles, plastic hair-dos, and a sea of beige clothing. It doesn’t feel like us, so we don’t connect – so we miss the key message. Corporates do no better, and often “hope for the best” when delivering a key message to international audiences (German frozen pizza advert spring to mind!) Cultural understanding and awareness is tough and requires effort. It means you need to check back with your audience, and validate that the message you THINK you delivered is the message that was UNDERSTOOD. Create a mechanism to do this (ideally subjective, such as talking with audience, rather than objective, such as surveys if you can.
Feels like I’ve written a short and snappy blog – I’m keen to hear your feedback. Is this style better, or do you miss my pondering?! Thanks for sharing!