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Communication Stategy

WHAT IS YOUR COMMUNICATION STRATEGY? – IT’S IMPORTANT TO KNOW

Communicating as a manager is far different then carrying on a simple conversation with someone.  Why?  This is because as a manager your communication is designed to trigger a specific response from you audience.  Most normal casual communication is simply a bunch of random thoughts bounced around by a group of people.

 

Managers want results, employees want directions. You would think this means that communication between employees/employer happens in a straight line, but it doesn’t.  the most effective communication is one that flows in a circular pattern..  The messages are channeled from manager to employee and then back from employee to manager.

 

What better person to build a communication model around then Jesus Christ.   For those of you who are balking at the idea of Jesus as a model of communication keep an open mind for a few moments.  No matter who Jesus is to you, He is one of the best communicators there is.

 

Lets analyze His communication style:

 

COMMUNICATOR STRATEGY

 

JESUS AND COMMUNICATION – OBJECTIVES

There is an old saying that says, “Talk is cheap”.  Well let me tell you it isn’t.  We all have something to say and we all have objectives for saying it.   For some speaking means carrying on a casual conversation for others it is a business presentation designed to sell a product.  So you can see why with so much communication going on you need to know what your objectives are in order to target you audience.

 

Jesus knew His communication objectives long before He started to speak, long before He even came to this earth.  He was the expert at targeting His words at a specific audience. If you were to take a look at any of His parables, general conversations or even the Sermon on the Mount you would see that Jesus picked His words carefully in order to target His audience and meet the objective for that lesson.

 

Jesus had a simple but profound objective: to show us how we can have a relationship with God and how that relationship should affect our relationship with those around us.  Everything He communicated revolves around that objective.  This is the same thing you need to do when communicating with others: set up an objective and then target your communication to that objective.

   

 

JESUS AND COMMUNICATION – COMMUNICATION STYLE

There are basically two styles of communication: tell/sell and consult join

1. Tell/Sell is used when you want the audience to learn from you.  Jesus used this style of communication when He gave the Sermon on the Mount.  In this style of communication you will want to have:

         Sufficient information

         You will not need to worry about hearing from others in the group

         Want to control the flow of the lesson and the message content.

 

2. Consult/Join is used when you want to learn from others or teach something to a small group of people.  This style is best suited for small group meetings or one on one training sessions.  A good example of this would be Jesus’ discussion with the woman at the well or His general discussions and training of the disciples.  This style of commensuration is used:

         When you do not have enough information

         When you want others to understand your opinion, ideas or inputs or you want the opinion, ideas and input of others.

         When you want your audience involved so you lead them to or come up with the intended message together.

 

JESUS AND COMMUNICATION – CREDIBILITY

The last part of a communication strategy is establishing credibility with your audience.  The more credible you are the more people will pay attention.  Jesus established His credibility from the beginning, when He was baptized and God declared, “This is my Son in whom I am well pleased” especially with the common people was credibility. 

 

Now we do not have the same luxury as Jesus so we must resort to other methods to establish credibility with our audience.  Your audience’s perception of you will also affect your communication style.  French Theorists Raven and Kotter believe there are five factors that affect your credibility; 1 rank, 2 goodwill, 3 expertise, 4 image and 5 common ground.    All these factors contribute to your credibility and if you lack in one of them your communication will be affected.  Once understand each factor you can move past initial credibility and increase your acquired credibility.

 

Initial Credibility

Initial credibility is what your audience thinks of you before you ever say a word.  Your initial credibility may come from your audience’s perception of who you are, what your represent, your company or organization, or any number of other sources.

 

To help establish your initial credibility as a communicator you may want to remind your audience about who you are, where you are from and why you are speaking to them about this topic. Learn to earn your initial credibility by sending information ahead that can be used to introduce you to your audience.  The more highly you are regarded by your audience the more likely they will listen to you and will seek out your expertise in the future.  This is why once you have established initial credibility you will want to work on acquiring more credibility. 

 

This can be done in any number of ways, but if you stick to the factors already discussed your credibility will grow over time.

 

Acquired Credibility

Acquired credibility takes place as soon as you begin to speak because now people in the audience have a perception of whom you are and if you are worth listening to.   It is up to you to either live up to the audience’s expectations or crash and burn in which case your credibility will go right out the window. 

 

That is why it is so important to place all your credibility in your persuasive writing or pre-speech publicity.  Take the time to fins out about your audience and what they will be interested in learning.  A little acknowledgment of you your audience’s interests will only help to heighten your credibility.  People like it when you pay attention to them and listen to them.  Make it all about them.   If you can arrive early and talk with members of your audience theis will help them to get to know you ahead of time.

 

Also be prepared; know your topic so well that you can recite it in your sleep.  I have been to too many meeting and speeches where the speaker only had a superficial knowledge of his or her topic.  This in my book is one quick way to kill your credibility.

 

Another way to acquire credibility is to hang out with highly credible people.  This is what the disciples did they hung around with Jesus and became credible to others because of Him.

 

 

 

AUDIENCE STRATEGY- WHO IS YOUR AUDIENCE? – IT’S IMPORTANT TO KNOW

 

Jesus was a master at knowing his audience. Of course He was God so he knew the hearts and thoughts of those who came before Him either in a group setting or one on one.  Even though you do not have the perception of Jesus there are still some techniques you can use to analyze your audience in order to make your presentation more effective.

 

WHO IS YOUR AUDIENCE?    This is a straightforward question that may require some research on your part.  Find out as much information about your potential audience as possible.

 

Who is included in your audience?  It is of the utmost importance to know who your audience is so you can adapt your presentation to their needs.  If you are writing or speaking to one group or a number of groups you want to make sure they will understand what your are going to say so you do not waste your time as well as their time.  I have been to a number of presentations that were geared towards the speakers needs not the audiences needs. After about 10 minutes I tuned out the speaker and started to think about how quickly this presentation would be over so I could get our of there. 

 

There a couple of ways you can get know your audience so you can set up a communication strategy designed for your audience.

 

First, if you can think about the individuals in the group: educational level, training, age, sex etc.

 

Second, if you do not know them as individuals think about them as a group: where are they from, what are their characteristics, what do they stand for etc. 

 

Once you have a clear idea in your mind of whom the group you are going to be speaking to is you can being to presentation designed for them. 

 

WHAT DO THEY KNOW?  Now that you have a mental idea of who your group is you also need to think about how much your audience knows.  To get a better idea of what they ask yourself three questions:

 

  1. How much background information do they need?  How well do they know what you are going to be teaching them?  Is there level of knowledge low, mixed or high?

 

  1. How much new information do they need?  Do not overload your listener with too much useless info unless you want them to stop listening

 

  1. What are their expectation and preferences?  When you prepare your presentation try to think about what your audience an what they will expect in the terms of information, style of presentation, format of the presentation and the channel of the format (written or visual)

 

WHAT DO THEY FEEL?   The way you audience feels is just as important as what they know.  This means that when you prepare your presentation you must be aware of the audiences emotional needs as well what they need to know.  Jesus was a master at knowing the spiritual and emotional needs of His audience and then tailoring His conversation to their needs.  I

 

There are two ways you as a presenter can tailor your presentation to the emotional needs of your audience:

 

  1. Think about the emotions of the people in the room.  How do they feel about being there?  What feelings may arise form their current work situation?  Is the material you are presenting going to spark a positive or negative reaction?

 

  1. How interested are they going to be in your message? Is your message something your audience wants to hear or are they being forced into the presentation?  A lot of times you must prepare for a hostile audience or maybe even a silent one.  Jesus worked through this by trying to ask questions that aroused a response from the crowd but also caused them to think.

 

  1. What is their bias positive or negative?  This is closely tied to audience interest. Think the impact of what you’re going to say.  Is the content of your presentation something your audience will be opposed to?  Jesus’ message was very biased and He had to work around many preconceived ideas and philosophies and overcome many obstacles in order to get even the 12 disciples to listen and perceive His message.  This is something that you also need to think about in your presentation what are the preconceived ideas people are going to have and how can I use them to my advantage or how can I overcome them or work around them?

 

  1. Is what you are asking them to do easy or hard?  Think about what you are asking them to do.  Is it going to be time consuming, complicated or difficult for them then you better prepared to give them good reason for motivating themselves to the task at hand.  Remember Jesus took 12 guys and let them know up front the task was going to be hard and that almost all of them would be dying for the cause, but the rewards would be worth it. 

 

Now you are probably not going to be asking your audience to do anything as hard as Jesus asked His disciples to do but you better be prepared to deliver your presentation with the same kind of authority and enthusiasm. You must make you audience believe in what they are being asked to do whether it is easy or hard.

 

HOW CAN YOU MOTIVATE THEM?   Motivation is the key factor in any presentation that is why you are there, that is why you’re speaking to a group or audience in the first place.  You want them to be motivated to learn what you are teaching them or to motivate them into action on a new project or job.  Jesus motivated people in three ways: through a belief in what he was saying, He gained and maintained credibility and He said what the people needed to hear.

 

  1. A belief in what you are presenting and how it will benefit your audience.  Whatever you are selling so to speak you must sell it in such a way as to make your audience realize how it will benefit them.  Speaking is an art form and you must realize that form the start. If you speak in such a way as to not get the benefits of what you are saying across to your audience they will not listen.  Jesus was all about the benefits so people were all about listening and doing. 

 

  1. Credibility.  What more can I say?  If oyur audience does not feel that you are a credible witness then they will not listen.  You need to work on your credibility before you can move forward and get your message across.  Jesus had built in credibility, so His disciples were able to by His authority use that credibility to take the message to the world.  Maybe you can do the same thing.  Find someone credible and learn from him or her and seek his or her help in gaining your own credibility.

 

  1. What about your message?  You can seek to motivate your audience by giving them benefit after benefit or by seeking credibility but if your message stinks you may as well not get up in the first place.  Do not put all your effort into trying to convince someone of something or by dazzling them with your credibility before making sure your message is what they want to hear.

 

If your message is not relevant or of interest to them then all the benefits or credibility in the world is not going to do you any good.  Write your message then write it again and then look it over a third time to see if you think it will be understood by your audience and received well.  Then give it to someone that is representative of your audience and see what they think of it.  If they like it ok, if not you’re back to square one. 

 

 

COMMUNICATION STRATEGY- THREE OTHER THINGS TO CONSIDER

 

YOUR MESSAGE STRATEGY

In order to make you communication more effective you should always take the time to develop a message strategy.  Most people think that what Jesus said in His messages were just some random thought and ideas that He presented to His audience as they came to Him. 

 

These were simply the saying of Jesus but the thing most people forget in assessing Jesus’ communication style is that Jesus is God and knew far in advance who He was going to talk. I for one think that Jesus developed message strategy designed to make the most of His communications with groups or individuals. 

 

Before you can formulate any message strategy you must ask yourself two questions:

How can I emphasize what I want people to know?

How can I organize my message to best suit the needs of my audience?

 

How can you emphasize?

  1. Use the direct approach- The direct approach is where you state the main points of your presentation right up front and then give the reasons or supporting information for your main point. 
    1. The advantages of the direct approach are that it improves comprehension because the audience knows what to expect. 
    2. It is audience centered – this allows the audience to know that what is coming is very important and must be paid attention to
    3. It saves time – there is no beating around the bush about what you are going to be communicating.   The audience can understand and retain more information as well as feel that they are a art of the action.

 

  1. Use the indirect approach – The indirect approach is the exact opposite of the direct approach.  The supporting information is given first followed by the conclusion or generalization of why you are giving the presentation.

 

Of the two approaches the direct approach is the best one to use because it helps the audience learn the information you are giving more readily.

 

CHANNEL CHOICE STRATEGY 

Part of your communication strategy is what media you want to use to deliver your message.  The choice is yours based on the type of message you are trying to send: generally the three types of channels you can choose are written communications, presentations and or a combination of both.

 

Each one has its advantages or disadvantages but generally if you want to talk to only one person,  a one on one meeting or a written document such as an email or fax will suffice. If you have a group of people it may be better to use presentation in the tell/sell or consult/ join style.  You can also if you feel ambitious you can combine your presentation with written communication.

 

There are also some new methods of giving presentations such as video or audio conferences.  Electronic presentations are becoming more and more popular because more and more businesses operate nationally as well as globally.

 

CULTURE STRATEGY

The final part of any communication strategy comes in understanding not only your audience in general but also the cultural makeup of your audience.  The cultural makeup of an audience will dictate how you speak, what words you use and make you more aware of non-verbal communication such as facial expressions or hand gestures.

 

Every aspect of your communication strategy that we have discussed so far will be affected by the cultural makeup of your audience.  If you look at Jesus ministry He always seemed to sue the cultural aspect of each person He communicated with in order to more effectively communicate His message.  A good example of this is the Samaritan woman at the well.  He started the conversation culturally and then moved onto her spiritual needs. 

 

Communicating to the cultural needs of your audience is a good way to connect with them and have them listen more attentively to your message.  Now you can see why a cultural strategy must be a part of your communicator, audience and message strategies in order to insure that your communication is easily accepted and  that mistakenly do not affecnd anybody in your audience.