The biggest problem in communication?

The biggest problem in communication?

Last summer I had the privilege to receive honest feedback from my colleague who was about to leave to take on new challenges. We chatted for a while and the most valuable feedback I had had in years was simply:

“Jukka, please communicate more about your vision and how you plan to execute it.”

I had sincerely thought that there was no need to communicate that much more. I even felt that I might had been slightly too eager in communicating my vision. But that simple feedback opened my eyes: I was wrong and people are not telepathic. And even if they were, everyone is focused on their own issues and tend to forget what is not crucial for them to do their job. On the other hand, I also realized that communication is never just about communication: you are always leading as well as building your brand as a leader.

Every move you make, every word you say – They’ll be watching you.

After the feedback I started to look ways and means to express my vision more. It is not always easy to find the best way to tell people what is expected and why, as it’s important to remember that there is no one-size-fits-all solution, see: different target groups respond better to the different ways of communication.

A simple rule of thumb

I have been doing my best to utilize the following principle in communication:

For masses tell stories, for board of directors use data.

The idea behind this short rule is that most people are too lazy to dive deep into facts, but when you are passionate and want to make decisions that hold water, hard data and evidence is preferred.

The elements of a message

On an upper level the elements of message should consist of the following:

  1. Why? What is the reason we are doing things, why am I communicating – what is the big lesson behind it all. What I want people to know? This is the vision.
  2. What happens, how does it feel? The surface, the words to tell the story. Share something emotional, personal, factual and maybe surprise people with a twist or two. This is the mission. If you want more precise advice, don’t worry: I will also write more about storytelling mechanics later.
  3. Next? There should be a fairly simple and precise CTA (call to action) in the story on how to proceed. Don’t ever assume people will understand your subtext: good corporate or marketing communication rarely relies on sharp attention or wits.
building up a personal communication strategy

I also recommend to build up a personal communication strategy. For example, a simple communication strategy in short could be:

  1. At the first stage focus mostly on upper management and on your team. That is mostly because you might want to involve them in making of the vision.
  2. For upper management use more data, for the team emphasize the personal benefits and emotional factors.
  3. As the foundations have been done the next step is to increase transparency and make the vision more company-wide. Use approx. mix of 80% emotion and 20% of data in the end of messages/presentations/whatever are your means of communicating.
  4. If possible, start to express your vision publicly. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, your own/corporate blog and maybe even YouTube are great medias to share your vision to the world. Remember that in mass communication emotion is usually the most effective way to make the vision fly. At least if you want to spread your message to as wide of an audience as possible.
  5. Be careful, nobody is not interested in your vision if it is not relevant to people. Relevance is the key in everything. So make sure your message contains something valuable. It could be a funny story, helpful article, mind blowing stunt or whatever cool thing you come up with. Only your imagination is the limit.
The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.
– George Bernard Shaw
IN CASE OF AN EMERGENCY

For me the simple and short feedback from the ex-colleague had a massive impact. But in case of an emergency where you don’t have the luxury of getting honest and relevant feedback and help, please send me a message to jukka@jukkaniittymaa.com and let’s have a talk to see if I or my colleagues could help you to excel!

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