Your Cheat Sheet to Successful Communications
Memos, company meetings, video messages, and webinars are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the ways you can communicate with your people. But don’t think these can be interchanged at whim. The right method depends on the message you are conveying, the people you’re hoping to connect with and more. To help hone your communication know-how, here are eight communication tips to start practicing today.
Tip #1: Choose the Right Mode
Individual and blast emails, audio messages, one-on-one in-person sessions, videos, team briefings, town hall gatherings – these are just a few of the ways to share your message. The key is to be thoughtful about your choice – sometimes the proper mode can make all the difference. For example, don’t share news of a company merger via email. The right mode here would be small groups where a trusted manager or senior executive is prepped to answer questions and guide team members through their many questions and emotions. Having an impromptu ice cream social? Blast that via email – or just have someone parade down the hall with an ice cream cone and word is sure to spread J.
Tip #2: Tone Matters
When communicating something that might elicit an emotional response, such as a leadership shift, a reorganization, or change in the promotion and raise policy, share this type of communication in way that allows people to hear – and not just read – your message. Spoken words have the power to deliver emotion in a way that a written memo just can’t do.
Tip #3: Consider Your Culture
If you want people to buy what you’re selling, make sure your culture and communication match. If a very relaxed organization distributes a formal email, people aren’t going to believe it … or you … and might not even read the email at all. The same goes with verbal communication. If you want people to hear, trust and support you, ensure your communication matches your culture. What you say has to authentically align with your business.
Tip #4: Match the Message with the Messenger
The person delivering your message matters too. So consider the content and then determine the right messenger. Corporate policy news might be best delivered by an HR executive. A major strategy shift? Consider the CEO or other C-suite level leader.
Tip #5: Engage Versus Communicate
If your organization is making a change, engaging your people in the process is paramount. Considering if you should close the office between the December holidays and New Years? Send out a company-wide survey. Hold a focus group. Engage with your managers and get live input on how this would affect their teams. When a change will impact your people and you are open to feedback – ask them!
Tip #6: Put Yourself In Their Shoes
It’s important to understand your audience and think about what appeals to them. Once you’ve crafted the communications, bring in a colleague to ensure you’ve included the details the recipients care about the most, as someone else might notice a detail you’ve omitted. This small act can help cut off questions before they even arise.
Tip #7: Less Is More
Whether delivering information in person or via email, remember to only share what people can digest and what is of interest to them. If you provide too much detail, people could become bored and tune out – missing the intent of your message entirely. Or they might feel unnecessarily overwhelmed and begin to overanalyze each bit, leading to misinterpretation and drama. While transparency is key, it’s just as important to reveal only the information your people need to know at that time. Fill them in on the rest via a detailed memo or during an in-person meeting when they have the chance to ask questions and get answers.
Tip #8: Leveraging Your Communications Toolkit
Remember, you have lots of ways to share info beyond a speech, memo or standard email. “FAQ” documents are a great way to give your people in-depth details that weren’t conveyed initially. Need something that packs a bit more emotional punch? Have your CEO film a short two-minute video that gives people new insight to a new company initiative. These supplementary reference tools can be invaluable to your people – giving them the opportunity to absorb details at their own pace and refer back to them when necessary.
8 Practical Emailing Tips (Yep … we actually made these mistakes so you don’t have to )
- Keep it Short! When you send a long email, you lose people. Yes, even interested parties become overwhelmed if you share too much information or detail. If you must include lots of information, offer a summary upfront and tell readers to keep going for all the details.
- Use the Bcc: Sending an email to a large group of people? Don’t use the “To” line. Add the email addresses to the “Bcc” line to avoid mass replies.
- Get Creative. Use a creative subject line to encourage more email opens. While you don’t want to use this tactic every time, when used selectively humor can be very effective!
- Don’t Forget! Have an attachment to send out? Attach it first BEFORE you draft the email.
- Wait to Address. Don’t let a message get sent out before you’re ready. If you add the recipient’s email address AFTER the email is complete, you’ll never have a message sent prematurely again.
- Give it Time. Feeling emotional? Draft your email and save it. Go back later to re-read it and THEN decide if you want to send it.
- Forward, Don’t Copy. Don’t blind copy someone if there’s chance they won’t realize they were blind copied. They might “reply all” and reveal they were part of the conversation from the get-go. Instead, just forward them the message.
- Use the Phone. If you find yourself having to hit reply more than twice – pick up the phone! Or just walk and talk. If you choose to keep emailing back and forth, you’re only going to add to the confusion.