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 your thoughts!
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