Although it doesn’t always feel like it, we have come a long way in the communications world this year. Looking at outcomes rather than outputs is a good way to help yourself recognise what you have achieved.
What’s the difference?
Of course, outputs and outcomes sound very similar. So what does each term mean? How do they differ from each other?
Here are a couple of definitions that help to make it clearer:
In the context of communication, when we talk about outputs, we mean things like:
The outcomes of these activities are different to this and will include consequences such as:
Why does it matter?
It’s very easy as a communicator to focus on the outputs of your activity. That is often the simplest thing to identify and to show to others in your organisation as ‘proof’ of your worth.
But unfortunately the reality is that you could, for example, have posted hundreds of tweets about your event without anyone reading them. Or without anyone reading them and deciding to take part and raise money.
In other words, you might have spent time and energy on communication activities (outputs) that haven’t added a great deal to your organisation and the people and communities you work with (outcomes).
Outcomes from this year
There is no denying 2020 has been a tough year. At times, communication has felt like a lot of work for little gain. But your work has made a difference.
Here are just a few examples of communication outcomes I have seen this year:
Tips to identify your desired outcome
There are lots of tools and techniques you can use to help you work out where the line lies between your communication outputs and the outcomes you need to achieve. Being aware that this distinction exists is a great first step.
1. When you are putting together your communication strategies and plans always ask yourself ‘so what’. Why does the activity you are planning matter? What do you want people to think/feel/do as a result? If you ask yourself this question at the very beginning, it will help you to build your plan to achieve it.
2. Use the ‘5 whys’ technique. This great technique helps you to go beyond the surface reasons for why you need to do something. It helps you identify the core reasons for why your work matters. It is deceptively simple. When I introduced it to attendees at Dawn Newton’s Charity Meetup last year, we received lots of positive feedback on the benefits of using it.
3. Sometimes it can work really well to start by thinking about what you do NOT want to happen. Once you’re clear on the things you want to avoid, you can flip your thinking to work out what you DO want to see.
If you need help to identify the outcomes for communication at your organisation, please feel free to get in touch for a no obligation chat about how I can support you.
Until next time