I attended another great CharityComms event yesterday; this time a seminar on the changing face of internal communication, with case studies and tips on integrating internal and external comms, engaging your staff with a new organisational strategy and launching a new campaign with all your staff on board. As is often the case with events like these, there was a mix of new ideas and reassurance about the things I already do.
One tip shared by all three speakers – and that I whole-heartedly agree with – is to keep the message as simple as possible. There are all sorts of ways to do that and here are some that I use and would recommend that you try if you are looking for ways to simplify your communication messages:
- Pocket people. This is a technique that I learnt at a training course many years ago and I still use now. Imagine an individual who is representative of your target audience. Be specific about the job that they do, where they are based, what they’re interested in. And give them a name. Then when you’re planning your messages, take them out of your pocket, as it were, and ask yourself ‘How would Jane talk about this? What would Jane think? What does Jane want to know?’
- Think about how you would explain the message to someone in the lift on the way to the 9th floor. You’ve only got the time it takes until they get to their office and there isn’t much time, if any, for clarification questions. This is a great way to focus your mind.
- My personal favourite – and something that one of yesterday’s speakers said she does too – is to talk to a child about it. Kids have a great way of cutting to the chase, asking the tricky questions and getting to the heart of the matter without unnecessary complications. Recently my 7-year-old daughter drew me a picture for my office wall. It shows Communication Guy, a super hero with a cape that has a picture of 2 people talking to each other on it. I love the way it conveys the simple truth that more often than not you can’t beat a conversation for effectively communicating. If you don’t have children yourself, borrow nieces, nephews or friends’ children for the same effect.
Once you’ve got the messages clear, your next task is to engage your content owners with the value of this approach….. but that’s another blog piece!
I’m sure there are lots of other methods for identifying simple messages. I’d love to hear about the ones that you use, so write me a comment below or drop me a line.
Until next time