We hear a lot about decluttering our lives. I want to declutter, too. Strategically communicating, rather than efficiently communicating, can declutter communication.
The first thing to do for all communication is to consider your audience’s needs and make your communication important to them.
Here’s an example of when efficiency backfired, big time.
I recently sent a meeting invite to one person. She was a co-facilitator for a presentation we were doing together. She then sent the invite to the group of internal staff people who would be attending the event, without letting me know. I panicked when I started seeing all sorts of calendar-invite responses from people I didn’t know. Really. I thought my computer was hacked or something. Or was it my iPad? Maybe my phone . . . I quickly changed my password and sent out an SOS to her and my tech support person.
In the replies, I was also getting questions from the recipients. Did I say I was panicked? So I started replying back, “I didn’t send this invite to you, and I don’t know why it was sent to you. I’m working on figuring that out. Thank you for your patience.”
Well, let it suffice to say that the messages were so unexpected that they did cut through my email noise and got my attention. Unfortunately for all the wrong reasons. Panic. Despair. Frustration.
I don’t endorse reaching your audience through those sorts of emotions. However, the experience made a good point. We need to cut through the noise somehow to have our communication heard and emotion sure does work. In this case, it backfired. Let’s be careful to activate the right emotion for the job, shall we?
When this example is applied to strategic communication it reminds us how important it is to think first about the audience(s) for your communication. When you communicate, we are often communicating about what we care about, and opt for efficiency over effectiveness. That doesn’t work and it simply makes more clutter.
For effective communication, the question is: What does the audience care about?
The person I sent the calendar invite was being efficient by just forwarding the invite to a group of people. What she didn’t think about was how they (the audience) would receive this communication from out of the blue.
What she forgot to do is:
- Tell me she was sending it. (I was an audience.)
- Tell the recipients why they were receiving it. (They were also an audience.)
What did her efficiency really do for communication? It caused more clutter. And chaos. Lots and lots of chaos. And extra emails trying to fix the communication debacle. Clutter.
Efficiency doesn’t override strategic communication. It just doesn’t.