Why birds sing, why dogs bark and why cars blow loud horns?!?
The gift of producing noise is common enough in many living beings and material things. To be able to address the right people with the right message is however not as easily done.
Communication is the start and end for all relationships – including of course corporate relations. Whether an organization is reaching out to its investors or employees or customers or even society at large – good intentions alone don’t make your plans succeed.
Communicating your plans, convincing to act, holding the conversation (a two-way dialogue) and being understood while understanding the audience ensures that you get what you want.
“Even if you do learn to speak correct English, whom are you going to speak it to?” – Clarence Darrow
Targeted Communication – Converting Noise into a Message
In current global market, with global opportunities, comes global competition and the challenge to reach your target audience effectively.
Within an organization as well, for a richly diverse nation such as India, there will be a kaleidoscope of cultures, languages, and of course accents to deal with.
Apart from cultural and lingual differences, the more important aspect is “Who are you talking to?”
Even if you customize and personalize every single message you send across to employees or into the market – is there any reason to send it to them? Don’t make noise. Communicate!
Identifying the target audience is critical aspect of communication. Simply spending a small fortune on varying media doesn’t ensure effective conversation with your market/ audience.
- Identify target audience
- Make the message for them, not for yourself (customer-centric)
- Recognize effective communicators within your team/ department
- Before conversation comes “being approachable”
- Aim for interactivity
- Passive messages might as well be called “Spam”
- Inform, enthuse, interact
- Soliciting participation means allotting time for addressing the response
- Offer information, extract knowledge
- Communicate to get a rapport
“When I get ready to talk to people, I spend two thirds of the time thinking what they want to hear and one third thinking about what I want to say.” – Abraham Lincoln
Efficiency and Communication
Business Communication needs purpose, motive and direction. If you are “talking” to your employees, acknowledge their needs, expectations. Meeting those needs may even be secondary – but to listen itself is half the accomplishment of desired communication.
Know your client’s profile. Know your employee’s profile. Communicating to either of them without hitting a point close to their business/ project is a failed message.
This not only involves research but some amount of empathy and EQ. Remember that you are dealing with people and not with a logo.
You can put across demands and even ask for action. The way you get the group/ person to acknowledge is by informing on the benefits, engaging on complementary terms/needs and aiming for consensus.
A good communicator is a diplomat. An effective communicator is a celebrity. Attract people to the table instead of moving around with your table.
- Know your goals before communicating
- Know your target’s needs/ desires/ capabilities before communicating
- Know people are “people”
- Know your own agenda and paint it as your target’s need rather than as your demand
- Efficiency is measured by level/quality of dialogue with your target and not level of media efforts/expenses
“Good communication is as stimulating as black coffee, and just as hard to sleep after.” – Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Mind over Message
Focus on the subject matter but aim to invigorate. Knowledge is as much an intellectual pursuit as it is a business requirement.
While it is important to deliver your agenda, it is also crucial that you make your audience mentally stimulated by your agenda.
Brainstorming can’t work in a stifled or restricted discussion. Ideas can soar only as high as the ceiling provided – sky high approach requires a wide, robust foundation of knowledge.
- Energize with words – offer ideas, opportunities, profit, etc.
- Expand their horizons – let them see beyond the well in which they dwell
- Provide and engage thought-provoking insights
- Provide a platform to voice ideas
- Ensure opportunities for innovation
- Futuristic thinking for growth in present
- Suggest being a market pioneer, not just a market leader
“Be sincere; be brief; be seated.” - Franklin D. Roosevelt
Accommodating, Assimilating and Accountability
People skills are not the exclusive domain of the HR or PR department of an organization. When you are building a knowledge-base or communicating the essential need for participation in your initiatives – remember that the skills and talent lie in the people and not in machines or office furniture.
Dealing with people can be a learning experience. It can also be a harrowing experience. Accommodate their agenda/ requirement within your own. Assimilate their knowledge by making the conversation geared towards receiving more (from audience) than it delivers (to the audience). Accountability and ownership of “knowledge-groups” occurs when the audience/ participant sees benefit to his own function. Then his desire to be in control should be endowed with ownership of that “knowledge-group”.
- Connect on participant’s requirements
- Provide every participant the same opportunity
- Respect begets respect
- Cordial discussion shouldn’t be aimless – establish the purpose and participant’s gains
- Sincerity requires persistence of efforts at both ends of the discussion table
- Empower the individual, enable the group, ensure corporate agenda
- Responsibility is not a burden, it is a privilege for the talented few
“The right to be heard does not automatically include the right to be taken seriously.” – Hubert H. Humphrey
To Please or to Propagate
Aesop’s Fable is applicable. Aiming to please everyone is honorable, but this is not always practical.
An organization exists to serve needs of various stakeholders – investors, consumers/clients, vendors/partners, employees, society, etc.
The employee is associated with the organization to first ensure the corporate goals. The individual’s personal goal should result out of organizational success. So if the individual and corporate goals are not aligned, then there is a fitment problem.
- Ensure right fit in right place
- Align and orient the employee with corporate agenda
- Reason is good, common sense better
“The more elaborate our means of communication, the less we communicate.” – Joseph Priestley
Simplicity and Accessibility
Complicated and high-end means of communication is not necessarily the best. Knowledge should be accessible.
While using communication tools, prefer ones widely available so that participants can replicate the information easily and thus carry, recall and spread the data.
Selection of communication media depends on:
- Target’s preferred media
- Suitable means for the content that is to be communicated
- Effective utilization of resources
- Maximizing gains from the communication – visibility, reach, look & feel, relevancy, etc.
- Possibilities of reusing/ replicating the communication – either by you or your target
- “Word of mouth” communication requires simple, precise words
- Can the communication be accessed readily by anyone on being referred to it?
“People change and forget to tell each other.” – Lillian Hellman
Updates, news and announcements
Communication also involves follow up. Make sure your contact list stays updated with relevant content/ knowledge/ information.
They form your network in a knowledge-base. If they are poorly informed – you are the poorer for it.
- Don’t overload the target with data
- Offer references/ links if target wants details
- Feedback is not enough – get them to engage in continuous dialogue
- Updates/ news/ etc. need to be received from the target as well
- Think of it as “conversation” instead of “communication”
“If I am to speak ten minutes, I need a week for preparation; if fifteen minutes, three days; if half an hour, two days; if an hour, I am ready now.” – Woodrow Wilson
Brevity – communicate to endure
Brevity is easier said than done. It takes time to condense grand concepts into a few exact words. Nonetheless, in today’s Information Age, brevity equals survival of communication. It spreads easily, it stays on the mind easily and then self-propagates easily. The best catchphrases, slogans and marketing/ advertising content involves communication of knowledge without burdening the audience with Gigabytes.
Ernest Hemingway, known best for his unique concise and accurate style of writing, had said:
“Eschew the monumental. Shun the Epic. All the guys who can paint great big pictures can paint great small ones.”
If you know your subject-matter, then you can condense it. A professor of Social Sciences need not lecture you on the great distant region of his nation if he can show it to you in a Polaroid snapshot.
- To make it last longer, make it brief
- Get the subject-matter-expert and you get the best content-provider
- Focus on ease of distribution
- Aim for ease of propaganda
- Don’t overload the recipient – one serving at a time ensures good appetite and healthy digestion
About the Author: Ujjwal Dey is a Life Coach, Motivational Speaker and Corporate Trainer. Call +91 9322005050