Getting the message through
As a company trying to get your message out, it can be frustrating when you feel those messages aren’t being heard. But if your audience doesn’t understand what you’re trying to say, it may be time to consider an uncomfortable truth: it’s not their fault. It’s yours.
This statement rings true no matter the size of your audience – from the people of Australia, to a local community group, or a conversation with your boss.
The fact is that getting your message through effectively begins with a comprehensive understanding of just who it is you’re talking to, and how you need to talk to them.
Here are three tips to ensure your audience understands what you’re trying to say.
1. Who is your audience?
It sounds like a silly question, but how much do you really know about the people you’re speaking to? Your understanding should stretch beyond a single identifying term such as ‘staff’, to include knowledge of your audience’s diverse attitudes towards you, the company or the topic you’re addressing.
You should also take into consideration your existing relationship with the audience, and the differences that may exist within a larger group. For example, staff could range from senior management to shop floor workers and everything in between. Each group is likely to have different needs, views and communication preferences.
Take the time to really understand exactly who it is you’re speaking to. This insight will help to determine what your audience wants to hear, and what messages will resonate with them the most.
2. Are you speaking the same language?
If you’re speaking Klingon, I’d be impressed – but that’s not what we’re talking about.
Instead, the point is this: are you speaking in terms that your audience will understand?
You might use technical terms and medical jargon when addressing a room full of surgeons, but you wouldn’t when speaking to a patient. Similarly, the way you speak to a loved one is different to the way you’d address your boss.
Adapt your language, tone and delivery to align with the needs of your audience, and give them the best chance of really hearing you.
3. What’s your point?
If your audience doesn’t understand your point, no matter how compelling you think it is, it’s almost certainly not because they lack the ability to comprehend it.
It’s likely they don’t understand because you’re not articulating your point in simple terms. Or to borrow from words attributed to Albert Einstein, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”
Test your thinking on someone who is unfamiliar with the topic. If they don’t understand your point or the purpose of the communication, go back and revisit your approach. As any native of a non-English speaking tourism destination will tell you, repeating the same message a little louder or slower will not improve understanding.
Align your message with your audience, use their language, and make sure your point is simple and clear – and if you need help with better understanding your audience, or translating Klingon into English, contact us.
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