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One Word is the Key to Great Communication 

May 01, 20236 min read

When you boil it down, there are only two types of communication:

  • Effective communication - which gets the point across and leads directly to the desired outcome.

  • And Miscommunication - which is a frustrating waste of time and effort, and the root of all problems.

Guess which of the two is more common?

The key to being a great communicator can be summed-up in one word:


Here are 5 quick things to consider when shaping your leadership communication:

1.       WHAT is the best message?

Not what you have to say…  That’s almost irrelevant.  Communication is about SO much more than saying or sending what’s on your mind.

The whole point of communication is what you want the recipients to know.  To understand.  To believe.  To feel.  To do.

George Bernard Shaw got it right when he said: “The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”

Trade places with your audience, whether it’s one person or thousands.  Consider what message would work best for them, to know, understand, believe, do, or feel the way you intend.


2.       WHY is it important?

People crave meaning.  Information without relevance is just more noise.  Be sure to include WHY this is useful or important for them, for the company, or for customer success.

For example, effective communication is a key to leadership success.  This blog post offers a simple framework you can apply to be a great communicator and avoid problems for the rest of your career!

Don't just include, but emphasize the 'why' behind your message to improve understanding and application.


3.       WHO should you include?

Is it just one person?  Several?  Your whole team or family?  Maybe it’s the whole company, community, or your entire customer list.

Leaving out people who need to know and understand can leave you with big problems down the road.

Note:  Not all recipients are created equal.  You may want to tailor your message accordingly.

Who do you intend to inform or influence?  And which version of your communication is best for them?

Considering all who should or might receive your message will help you to avoid thoughtlessly leaving anyone out.  Who you choose to include will help to shape ‘What to communicate’ to achieve your desired outcome.


4.       WHEN is the best time?

Timing is Everything

Timing is everything with communication.  Too soon and your message may be half-baked or taken lightly.  Too late, and people will not have time to fully understand, prepare, or respond appropriately.

The ‘Goldilocks-zone’ for When to communicate depends on What and to Whom you’re communicating.  Typically, some people need or deserve to know your message before others.

Considering and striving for the best possible timing with your communication is critical for your communication success.

The right message to the right people can fall on its face if it’s not delivered with good timing.


5.       HOW to best deliver?

How to best deliver your communication can be as important as the other 4 considerations put together.  There are 6 basic channels to choose from:

  • One-to-one.  This can be face-to-face, on the phone, via video chat, etc.  But one-to-one is usually best for high-priority contacts.  The people who need to know first, most, or those whose input or help you’ll need with getting the message out effectively to a larger group.

  • Team meetings can be an effective way to field questions and build support while sharing your own personal passion and conviction behind the message. You can ensure understanding and gauge buy-in.  They are also a great forum for brainstorming and gaining commitment to achieve the goal you have in mind.

  • Email is widely used and often abused as a messaging vehicle.  Whether one-to-one, or one-to-many.  While it is a great way to dispense information, there is no way to gauge whether or how well it’s been received.  Just because ‘you sent and email’ doesn’t mean that “communication has actually happened.”  Consider email as more of a supplement rather than relying on it to be your primary channel for communicating important messages.

  • Slack, Teams. or other dedicated channels that enable select messaging channels and bypass the email ocean.  These can be very effective, in that they are focused, and provide a notice when a message is received.  But they can also become overwhelming.  I have yet to see a company adopt one of these systems that didn’t quickly become a spiderweb of additional incoming information.

  • Video messaging is fairly new to the scene and offers an effective upgrade to email, Slack or

    other text-based communication options.  The benefit of video messaging is that it enables you to deliver your message with expression and passion, emphasizing the points that you really want others to understand.  Free tools like Loom and Zoom make this very easy to do.  If you don’t like what you’ve created, just delete and record again till you get it just right.  Another neat feature of this approach (at least with Loom) is that you can ask recipients to simply click and record their video reply – whether they have questions, understand fully, or disagree, you can request and see their response without having to schedule a call or meeting.  It’s the next best thing to being there.

Video Messaging

  • Social media.  The list of 'How to best deliver' used to be much shorter.  But options like Slack, video messaging and the many social media channels now offer a dizzying array of options. The beauty of social media is that it’s widely used and available.  So, it’s a helpful way to make your information available to the masses.  But it’s more like a library or a website where people can go when they want or need more information.  Yes, you can use it to send, share, or even promote.  Sometimes very effectively. But just because you’ve posted doesn’t mean the people you intend to reach will see it.  I’ve heard a thousand times that “It’s on our Facebook page…” Typically, well after I needed the information.

  • It has its place…  Social media is a great way to remain visible, relevant, and even helpful to your followers.  I know some small business owners who use it as the primary channel for communication with their customers and teams. But’s also risky.  If social media platforms change their rules or algorithms, (as has happened), you can lose access to your main means of communication.  It’s wise to have control of that yourself.

  • Consider which of these channels will provide the best results for your leadership communication. It’s often a combination.

In closing:

Most communication is delivered quite thoughtlessly. And often incomplete - lacking important information and meaning that would help recipients to understand and respond productively.

Whether your goal is to inspire your team’s performance, win favor with investors, or get customers to respond to your next marketing pitch, “consideration” of these 5 questions is the key to being a great communicator.

Changing Lanes for Business: Improve Your Business Now

Leadership successCommunicationConsiderationEffective Communication
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Tim Rhode

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