Whether you’re trying to convey a message to your spouse, your kids, your co-workers, your customers, or a room full of strangers, communication requires two things in order to be successful:
1 – Our message must REACH the intended recipient(s)
For our signal to make its way to the person or people we want to reach, it needs to be sent using a method our audience will receive or interact with.
That includes the communication channel we use like a face-to-face conversation, email, postal mail, video, direct message, etc.
But it also includes our style of communication. For example, the louder we speak in a conflict situation often leads to the party tuning us out. Or, when a written message looks long and complex, many people skip it because it takes too long to read.
In both of these cases, the message was sent, but it didn’t actually reach our audience.
What’s the key to reaching our audience?
When we put ourselves into the other party’s shoes, we can get a better sense of how they need to receive information in order for it to connect with them.
This is an “audience-first” communication method designed to increase the effectiveness of our communication.
2 – Our message must be INTERPRETED properly by the intended recipient(s).
But reaching the audience is only half the journey.
After our message connects, the really tricky part begins. Now we need to make sure the message is decoded properly so the person or people we’re talking to translate our message in the way we intended.
This is where word choice, visuals and clarity become essential. Words, phrases, images, and icons have dramatically different meanings depending on a person’s age, mindset, experiences, and many other factors.
Also, as the complexity of a message goes up, the comprehension by the audience goes down. Simpler, shorter, clear communication has a much greater chance of being understood and interpreted accurately.
Only by using our deep understanding of the audience we need to reach — and the empathy we’ve developed through that understanding — can we determine the most effective way to make sure the signal we send connects with and influences others in the way we intend.
About the Author
Jessica Walter, MS, APR, is a Communication Strategist and Certified Leadership Coach with a passion for inspiring individuals and companies to live into their full potential.
Jessica has been a strategist and consultant for a communication firm, a marketing executive for a regional bank, a communications director for a health system, a public affairs officer for a Dept. of Defense command, and the assignment editor for a TV newsroom.
She has recently been quoted in Training Magazine, Becker’s Hospital Review and the Central Penn Business Journal on accelerating business growth through culture and employee communication.
She holds a master’s degree in Leadership & Business Ethics from Duquesne University, a bachelor’s in Mass Communication from Towson University, and the Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) from the Universal Accreditation Board.
She is also certified as a Lean Systems Leader and as a Professional Leadership Coach.
You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
© 2020 Jessica Walter, MS, APR
All content provided here is for informational purposes only and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of any organization with which the author is involved. Although the author makes an extensive effort to provide a complete representation of facts, it is recommended to gather information from many sources. The author sincerely hopes that you find this information helpful and urges you to be inspired, to inspire others, and to be gentle with yourself as you continue on your path.