Communicating effectively is a rather steep and treacherous mountain to climb sometimes. A key principle is to always keep your audience in mind and how they will receive information.
We are all bombarded with messaging through various channels constantly through email, web, text, social channels, phone etc. So while you may spend hours/days/weeks honing your messaging so that it is ‘perfect‘, your readers capacity to receive your messaging in its intended form may be less than pristine.
So often when crafting communications plans and executing them we lose that perspective. It can be very easy to move too quickly and fail to appreciate the perspective of those receiving the information.
I like examples and so I found one that I think demonstrates the point entirely – inclusive of the rather extreme fail on the back end. Consider the video below. A rider and his snowmobile out for what seems a leisurely ride. A GoPro video camera affixed to the riders helmet captures the execution fully. From the first moment through to 49 seconds, this individaul could be out for a ride through the mountains. Given the camera’s positioning and his point of view, we have no concept of what he is really doing. Please watch the video
After the 49th second in this video we appreciate that this rider was facing a mountain and we had no concept of it because of our perspective. We fail to appreciate that in the first minute because of the video camera’s positioning on the helmet. The relationship you have to what you see/read is not always the same as others, nor should we expect it to be.
So how do we avoid such communications catastrophes? Keep in mind your audience and their position. If you want to now how effective your messaging is, go and ask them. Don’t be afraid to engage your audience in a real, meaningful conversation. Their understanding of the subject matter and how much they would care about the message. This is critical – not how much you want them to but rather how much they will actually care about what you’re trying to communicate.
A few key pointers
- Keep jargon to a minimum
- Do it in person if you can
- Avoid overloading readers
- Keep it concise
- Talk to your audience and get their feedback
Communicating key messaging is always an uphill battle but it doesn’t have to be as treacherous as an uphill ascent on a snowmobile.