Communication Breakdown: Are You Thinking About Your Audience?

Communication Breakdown

Over the course of my career many leaders have lamented this: “Little I say seems to be resonating!?!?”

Although this can be very frustrating, it certainly does not mean that you should just stop communicating (as I’ve also heard…)

Knowing Your Audience


Most likely, the failure to communicate effectively an indicator that you need to take more time to find out what makes your audience tick, and how and when they’re most receptive to information.


Think about any questions and concerns they might have that will impede their ability to hear you. By anticipating audience needs and concerns, you can ensure that you shape your message in a way that will resonate with your listeners.

The Real Communications Challenge

As challenging as it can feel to state your thoughts clearly and concisely, the real challenge is shaping those thoughts clearly and concisely for your audience.

Employees (and any audience) want you to appeal to them in terms that speak to them and their needs, often on a personal and emotional level—yes, even if you’re just talking about work.

Especially if you’re talking about work.

When leaders don’t understand their audiences’ needs or perspectives, they make these two common missteps:

  • They mistake any communication for good communication
  • They communicate from their perspective instead of the audience’s

Your Communication Role as a Leader

As a leader it’s your job to use communication to help your audience make the connection between business objectives and their role in helping you meet them. But it’s important to understand that before you can get to the business big picture, you’ll need to address employees’ personal needs first.

At the end of the day, employees want to know “What’s in it for me?

They might articulate that need in any number of ways:

  • “How does this affect me?”
  • “What does this have to do with me?”
  • “What should I be doing?”
  • “Does anyone care about me?”

The Solution: Know Your Audience

Know your audience and speak to them. There’s real magic in addressing your audience’s needs first. When you do your audience is more likely to trust you, and as a result be more generous, open and receptive to big-picture, strategic communication.

All communication should always be tailored to the specific audience to make them aware of their role in the organizational whole.

That’s what leads to engagement and the discretionary effort all of us want.

Then, you can truly inspire employees to action as only a great leader can by giving them feelings of significance, community, and excitement through your communications.

Specifically as a leader you should:

  • Contextualize organizational information to ensure your team understands how it fits in.
  • Craft information so that it’s relevant to individual employees and teams.
  • Provide job-related information so that individuals and teams can do their jobs effectively.

When it comes right down to it, it doesn’t matter what you say, it’s whether you can make it relevant to your employees.

So, how clear are you about who EXACTLY is your audience? Have you developed the right mindset to serve them in a way that will work with them? Or are you stuck in a place where you seemingly don’t connect well? If you are, what would you do to get to a more effective platform for your audience? I would love to hear you thoughts!


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David Grossman
David Grossman is Founder and CEO of The Grossman Group
He is a much sought-after Consultant, Speaker, and Executive Coach 
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1 Comment

  1. williamjameslew on March 25, 2013 at 3:18 am


    When the concept of leadership is thrown into disarray by human frailty this will, given time and circumstances become the criterion by which a nation, church, company, people will behave and conduct oneself.

    When the moral principals that govern a person’s or a group’s behavior has ceased to be a dictate of conscience, decline is rapid and the turbulence which one would expect is quenched instantly and unceremoniously.

    Disadvantages in the power structure determine the possibilities of addressing these situations from within and is both foolhardy and dangerous if criteria misjudged.

    Patience and determination with a view for longterm commitment is of the essence.

    An external audience of likeminded should be acquired before attempting the address. The internal audience of likeminded will then have the possibility to express support and prepare ethical reestablishment.

    Extreme behavior with obvious honorable intentions will gain an audience of likeminded. The same behavior will gain the adversary audience in which a negative reaction must be expected.
    Having gained your audience preparedness is essential.

    Sweden is in moral decline as I show in my example ”Don’t Break If You’re Going For Broke” by Dan Waldschmidh.

    Since the murder of Olof Palme, Sweden has struggled to find leaders of character to further the visions of post war Europe. With the exception of Ingvar Carlsson the Social Democratic Party has had mediocre leadership determined and at any cost to maintain male dominance at the helm. Mona Saline in particular and among others had and have the ethical qualities which is inessential in recovery, unfortunately male chauvinism and corruption in power prevent succession.

    The Moderate Party. Prime Minster Fredric Reinfeldt and Carl Bildt ex Prime Minster and now Minister Of Foreign Affairs Show excellence in national affairs and brilliance in foreign affairs but do not address ethics or decline of ethical value.