I think this post about how to effectively communicate will resonate with all of us.   We are interacting every day with our volunteers, donors, staff, vendors, etc.  Are we hitting the mark?

In addition to what Lynne says here, it’s good to understand certain things about the other person.

  • What do they care about? (motivation)
  • What makes them feel insecure or vulnerable? (possible obstacles)
  • What do you know about their preferred communication style? (increase your odds of being heard)

Enjoy the read….. (The tips  here refer to written communication, but certainly apply to verbal also.)

Begin with the End in Sight Theory

Before doing any communication, determine what it should accomplish. That will help you build the right content and strategy into it — increasing the chances you’ll get what you want.

All communications are meant to persuade. The proposal to get management to accept a new idea, or to choose to work with your company. The invitation to a brainstorming session you wish people to attend. The news release on a new product or service. You want people to do something.

Here’s the irony. The most common failure in communication is that people forget the call to action.   Here are three ways to build a strong case and make it easier for people to take action.

Trick #1: Know What You Want. How often have you fired off an email or returned a call without thinking about what you hope will happen? Spend an extra few seconds answering “What do I want people do after this?” If you believe in visualization, picture them taking the action you’d like. Then ask four simple questions: 1. What problems will my approach solve for them?  2. What will they need to know so they can agree with me? 3. What barriers would prevent them from taking the actions I want? 4. How can I include information — in this communication or elsewhere — that will overcome these? Knowing what you want — and how you can make others want the same thing — automatically increases the chances of persuading your reader.

Trick #2: Write with “Yes” in Mind. Have you ever had to write a memo and thought, “They’ll never sign off on this!” And, of course, you were right. When you’re sure your ideas will be rejected, that negativity will leak out in a million ways: the words you choose, the way you organize the information, and how much time you spend answering possible objections in advance.   If you can’t write with the belief that your ideas will be accepted, do something else until you can. Also know when is a good time to write it. If you’re a morning person, don’t start at 3:00 in the afternoon when you’re at low energy.

Trick #3: Include the Call to Action. Tell your readers what you want them to do — and make it easy for them to do it.    If it’s a proposal, media “pitch” letter, or formal communication, the call to action falls at the end. You used the rest of the piece to present your case so they will agree with you. Now you tell them how this should look.   If you’re writing an email, put the call to action at the top — perhaps in the subject line. This is a short communication, so let your reader know right away what you want and then provide the (brief) details. Most people scan their emails. If your request falls at the bottom, they may miss it.   By the way, don’t do a “call me when it’s convenient to discuss this.” It may never be convenient. You have no idea how important this is to them, or how many other things are hanging fire on their desks. Let them know when you will follow up to discuss the ideas — and then do it.

You deserve to get what you want. Help others give it to you.

Lynne Franklin Wordsmith www.yourwordsmith.com