Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Importance of Clear Communication in Difficult Times

Pretty much every day for the past few weeks, the difficult economic conditions have topped the news reports in the western world. Some people have been glued to the news stations, and I have to admit that I watched in fascination as the stock markets gyrated wildly. Most people didn’t know what to think and it resulted in more fear from the uncertainty. Without a clear explanation of what was going on and what the future would bring, people have become scared.

So what do you do in times like these? If you are responsible for communicating a message, make clarity your top priority. People today are distracted by events of the day and are not listening as closely, so your message needs to be well thought out to cut through the increased noise going on in our heads. If your message is not clear, it will get lost among the other competing messages.

How do you make your message clear, whether it is in the form of a presentation or a document? Start with the goal in mind. Be clear about the one thing you want your audience to get from this communication. Figure out three or four steps that will move them from where they are today to where you need them to be. Then back it up with clear facts, presented in simple visuals so they get the point immediately. Check for understanding to make sure they got it.

And realize that once may not be enough for people to get it. The world leaders have been holding news briefings almost every day because they need to repeat the core message to ensure it gets through to as many as possible. So schedule regular communications to reinforce your message and instil confidence to the audience.

Whether you are communicating to employees, suppliers, customers or stakeholders, now is the time to focus on clarity instead of fancy words that hide the real meaning.


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