“You can have brilliant ideas but if you can’t get them across, your ideas won’t get you anywhere.”
Communication planning may sound like a big company concept, but it is just as important for a small business, an independent practitioner, a non-profit, or a professional in transition.
No matter how independently you like to work, to translate strategic ideas into reality requires the understanding and support of others.
Conveying a strategy, a positioning statement or asking for help may not seem difficult, but, but very few get it right. With a carefully developed communication plan, there is a much better chance of making sure that everyone hears your message, and in a way that will build support.
The first step requires identifying ALL of the parties who should hear your ideas.
Start by thinking about everyone who can possibly affect the success of the plan (this might include clients, employees, prospects, business partners, your professional network, etc). Once all of the different groups of people are identified, a message that is both consistent and personalized can be developed.
YOU CAN’T OVERCOMMUNICATE
According to an article by John Kotter in the Harvard Business Review, it has been estimated that most organizations under communicate their vision by a factor of ten. Here are a few situations of failed communication that I see repeatedly.
- A senior management team invests weeks devising a new direction, but fails to include certain business areas in the process of developing the plan.
- A small business develops an exciting new service and never gets around to telling their current client base about their new capabilities
- Technical experts in a business find themselves in the position of selling a service but do not have a consistent, focused and targeted message about the benefits
INCREASE THE ODDS
As you begin to think more strategically about your message, it is important to understand how others perceive you, your business or organization (which may require some research). If the marketplace is not thinking about your business in the same ways that you are striving to become known, a new look at what you are offering, or in many cases a better way of communicating may be in order.
Doug Hall in Jump Start Your Business Brain, shares his research-based ideas on what businesses that succeed do differently. His research tells us that what separates those who succeed from those who don’t is the ability to communicate to your target audience the following three things:
- An Overt Benefit- what’s in it for them
- A Real Reason to Believe-why they should believe you will deliver on your promise (the overt benefit)
- Your Dramatic Difference
“The communicator is the person who can make himself clear to himself first”
Paul D. Griffith
Establishing trust and credibility are critical before someone will believe you. People want to see consistency in words, values, vision and actions. If you are not being honest and genuine, your message will be discounted or ignored. Here are a few ideas that might help you become a better communicator.
- Listen for understanding and be empathetic to the feelings of your audience
- When you speak, your listeners are watching to be sure that your facial and body language match what you are saying.
- Practice writing and speaking, you will improve with practice
- Get help with tough communications. Try your ideas with friends and/or associates, they can provide a great perspective
- Simple is almost always better
Written by Helene Mazur
Helene is the founder of Princeton Performance Dynamics, an executive coaching and strategic planning facilitation company for business and non-profit leaders and their teams. Helene’s passion is helping her clients to focus their goals, see new perspectives on their current situation, put in place realistic, motivating plans, and execute to achieve new levels of success.
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