What do your messages really say?

imagesW08JHL0CDo you really send the messages that you think you are sending? How often do you re-read an email or text before you send it?  You might be surprised at what you think you are messaging versus what you are really messaging.  Your perception may not match reality.  Messaging is a critical business tool that you cannot afford to ignore.

Good messaging is also a key peer differentiator. Read on…

  • Make it crisp
  • Value dumps
  • Vision messaging
  • What you think doesn’t matter
  • Start with message validation

Make it crisp

Too many corporate communications have long and wordy sentences.  Further, paragraphs are too long.  You can find good on-line guidance on this. The short version is this; be harsh with yourself on the word count in sentences.  Cut the flowery rhetoric and get to the point.  Use bullet points more often as a tool to cut paragraph sentence length. Senior executives are time constrained and therefore you will gain favourable attention if you can provide succinct and direct messaging.

Value dumps

A common messaging error is dumping too much value into a message.  The receiver simply can’t absorb it all.  This is common in presentations, particularly external ones.  For example: If you have 20 value statements and you only need the top 7 to win the next step in the relationship then stop at 7.  This way you will have another 13 value statements to delight the client as you continue developing a relationship.  Otherwise, if you state it all up front, you will have less to say in the subsequent meetings.  Further, absorbing all 20 value statements is a difficult task for listener.

Vision messaging

Leaders need to build vision statements that create an image of a possible future.  This is a critical messaging tool for executives through to department managers.  This skill is all about creating word pictures that allow you to figuratively stake a flag on a direction or goal.  Then you need to get behind your teams and help them get there.  Honing this skill will likely allow you to stand out from your peers.

What you think doesn’t matter

All of your communication should be written with consideration to your audience.  What is their role? What is their subject comprehension level? What is their bias on the topics? What is their age and experience?  All of these and numerous other factors should be considered when you write your message.  Reading a finished message from the perspective of the audience is a fundamental tool to good messaging. This is a learned skill.

Start with message validation

A great way to improve your messaging skills is to use validation.  Find peers, senior managers, staff, partners that you can use as a sounding board.  Create your message and then run it by them.  The goal is for you to see your messages from the perspective of peoples view. Take a look at the Getting and Giving Advice blog for guidance on this.

How are your messages?  What can you do to improve your messaging?  What are your messaging blind sides?

David Reimer

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