Three smart ways to communicate better

#1Understand your audience

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place”

George Bernard Shaw

This sounds obvious, but it’s vital when crafting communications – internal, sales, marketing, public service or any other – that they are truly receiver driven. What’s important is not what you want, not why you think you’re great, but what you are bringing to meet the needs of your target audience, and so achieve the outcome you require.

This requires a mixture of empathy and an understanding of the user experience/journey. It means being able to get outside of your own experience, prejudices, viewpoints and expectations, to see the world as your audience sees it.

#2 Mix it up

“And what is the use of a book,” thought Alice, “without pictures or conversation?”

Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

It’s vital to remember people process information differently, and not necessarily the way you do.  Some like detail, some the headlines. People may be predominantly visual, auditory, or kinaesthetic processors, they may prefer images, reading, listening, or active participation in events.

It’s important to take these different styles and preferences into account when constructing your communications. Find a variety of ways to get your message across.

#3 Be congruent

“I speak two languages, Body and English”

Mae West

If we ask a friend if they are ok and they say, ‘yes I’m fine’ we only believe them if their body language and tone match their assertion.  If it doesn’t then we begin to think something is up. In the same way it’s important all your communications and marketing activities are joined and consistent.

Find your core messages, and make sure each channel you use reflects those messages.  Your imagery and branding need to support and enhance what you are saying – design affects people’s behaviour and emotional responses. Style matters; if you are selling your professionalism, for example, bad or colloquial writing could undermine your success. If you are targeting a young audience more formal language could do the same.

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