Effective Communications

posted in: Paperwork 0

There are a bewildering number of ways to communicate with people and it is easy to become overwhelmed by all the options. Web, print, or video? Casual or formal? Text, email, or phone? Words or graphics? Social media? And if so, which ones?

The best way to sort out these decisions is to start at the other end of the process and figure out what your goal is and who you areĀ  talking to. There are costs, even if just a little time, to every communication, and some planning can make sure you reach your audience effectively.

Before starting in on the options, consider these questions:

  • Why do it? What is the goal here? Do you really need to communicate it? Are you reminding people that you exist, or communicating something specific?
  • Who is the target audience? Do you know? You may need to do some market research to figure this out, but it will make a big difference on which channel and style you choose. Teens and their grandparents obviously get their information in very different ways, but even among grandparents, some will be proficient on the internet and others won’t be comfortable turning on their computer.
  • What are you trying to communicate? Be sure you are very clear on exactly what you want your audience to take away from the communication. If you aren’t clear, they probably won’t be either. There may be multiple levels – “Here is cool information and aren’t we cool to provide it?” – and they all need to be clarified.
  • How will you communicate it? Now you get down to some choices. Given the audience and the message, is it best communicated verbally, in text, in pictures, or with video? Formally or casually?
  • When is it best to communicate it? Now? next month? And what time of day or week? If you are trying to reach stay-at-home moms, that will be a different time of day than if you want to reach teens or professionals.
  • Where will you communicate it? This is mostly geographic, large and small; it includes region as well as street (for billboards). But it can also include choosing networks, magazines, or social media sites, which have a geography of their own.

After you decide how to communicate and make it happen, there is one question left: Did you succeed? The answer to this, with detail if possible, will help guide your next effort, even if only to tell you what to avoid at all costs.