December 28, 2013

3 ways to better connect with your audience in 2014

Beyond the mandate, the mundane, the routine, or the motivating and congratulatory need to communicate…serious legal matters, downsizing, budget cuts, human crises, and critical emergencies require timely communication. 

After all the New Year celebrations are over, serious news in 2014 may call for engagement more than anything, and here are some of the best basic ways to connect with an audience across all communications channels.

Examples, scenarios, case studies
Even during times of seriousness, perhaps more so, it’s important to use STORY to communicate. Authentic situations and characters, or anecdotes, to which your audience can relate make the impossible-to-imagine, the abstract, and difficult-to-swallow subject matter RELEVANT.

Hearing from someone who matters
Hearing from leaders (and I don’t mean CEOs necessarily) is also an important way to convey the seriousness of the subject matter. A respected expert in the field, a company “hero,” a celebrity or other high-visibility individual who has a stake in the outcome or cares about the subject matter…these are potential messengers of important information—as long as the messenger MATTERS to the audience.

Stay focused on the outcome
Yes, recognize and acknowledge the seriousness of the situation. But instead of focusing on reduced funding, challenging markets, or critical safety violations…it’s important to stay focused on WHY you are communicating with your audience. What is the vision, the endgame?
  • Have a problem with product quality? Communicate to let your employees and the customers/public know what happened, what you are doing about it, how soon it will be fixed, and how you are going to ensure quality going forward.
  • Facing budget cuts and downsizing? Communicate fairness, transparency, responsibility, and transition.
  • Have a tragic workplace act of violence?  Communicate to inform, to comfort, to support, and to try to make sure nothing like it ever happens again.
  • Have safety issues on-the-job? Communicate to let your employees know their safety is your first priority, what you’ll change to support that, and to assure management/congress/stockholders/taxpayers that you are taking action, and how.

However serious the current situation, it does not DEFINE the company, the organization, the agency, or the employees. Whether you're communicating from a combat zone or a corporate boardroom, make a New Year's resolution timely, stay relevant, make it matter, and stay focused on the optimal outcome. 

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December 23, 2013

What do you mean, Happy Holidays?

It's occurred to me that holiday greetings and salutations are similar to business communications. We have to consider our audiences, know our intent, and communicate clearly focused on the desired outcome.

In the movie, Love Actually, arguably a modern day Christmas classic, Mark finally blurts out his true feelings for Juliet via cue cards at her doorstep.

Our holiday greetings don't need to be a confession, but if we peel away the layers of every variation of Happy Holidays, Joyeux Noel, Buon Natale, and Mele Kalikimaka, they all have something in intent to wish something good, as Tennyson said, "...peace and goodwill to all mankind."

Say what you mean, and DO what you say. Express it in the best way you possibly can.

Sharing and spreading those wishes are my intent here too. Beginning with the most basic peace and joy that I possess, I give to you:

"We have within ourselves
Enough to fill the present day with joy,
And overspread the future years with hope."
--William Wordsworth

All the very best to you and yours this holiday season and in the New Year!

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