Planning to communicate
What do you want to say?
Why are you saying it?
Who to? When by? How?
And is it working?
BE CLEAR ABOUT BEING CLEAR
Before you put pen to paper, start typing or open your mouth, be clear about the purpose of your communication. Ask yourself: what do I want people to think differently as a consequence of my communication? What do I want them to feel differently? And, if you are to positively impact business performance, what do I actually want them to do differently?
KNOW THE HOT TOPICS
Find out what your people are talking about at the moment. What are the hot topics of conversation at the water coolers and canteen queues? They may not be the same things you want to talk about, and may be a barrier to getting your message across. Equally they might help you, so keep your ear to the ground.
WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME?
The first time you hear about something new, chances are you'll think to yourself “What does all this mean for me?” Your people are no different. Your job is to think about what all this means for them. And then explain it in a relevant and meaningful way that makes sense to them. (For more, see chapter 3 'Understanding Your Audience').
IS THIS IMPORTANT OR JUST URGENT?
Not all communication has to be delivered at lightning speed. And, like you, your people are very busy and can only absorb so much. So think about prioritising your communication – you'll know what's important and what's not. Do this and you can separate the things that will help drive the performance of the organisation, or are important for other reasons, from the noise of everyday communication.
IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE EMAIL
These days we have a tremendous range of communication methods available to us: team meetings, audio and video conferences, notice boards, intranets and newsletters, to name just a few. So it doesn't have to be an email every time. Think which method would work best for your message and your audience. It could be you use a number of methods to reinforce key messages. Sending an email doesn't always crack it.
MIND YOUR LANGUAGE
Don't assume your people understand the latest management jargon, project names or acronyms. Mirror the type of language they use to explain things to each other. A good test is to imagine you are explaining something to your brand new neighbour over the garden fence. If they would understand what you are saying, chances are your people will too.
DON’T JUST DO SOMETHING. SIT THERE
Improving employee engagement takes planning. Effective communication takes planning – it's not about rushing out there with a piece of news. So don't just do something, sit there and think first. It will save you an enormous amount of time in the long run, and help you achieve your personal objectives.
IS IT REALLY WORKING?
If you know the purpose of your communication, it's a baby step to identify ways to measure communication effectiveness. So when you're planning your communication, identify what success will look like – more sales, fewer errors, greater customer satisfaction, higher compliance etc. Then test the effectiveness of your communication against these measures. And remember, what gets measured gets done.
A framework is available to departments to review their current practice in communication and make recommendations for improvement. View the framework along with the Staff Communication Policy. If you have any queries or would like some advice contact Internal Communication at firstname.lastname@example.org.