WHAT IS YOUR COMMUNICATION STRATEGY? – IT’S IMPORTANT
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:
JESUS AND COMMUNICATION –
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
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
JESUS AND COMMUNICATION –
There are basically two styles of communication: tell/sell and
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:
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
When you want your audience involved so you lead them to or come up with the intended message together.
JESUS AND COMMUNICATION –
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 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 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
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
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:
- 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?
- How much new information do they need? Do not overload
your listener with too much useless info unless you want them to stop listening
- 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:
- 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
- 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.
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.
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.
- 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
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?
- 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.
- The advantages of the direct approach are that it improves
comprehension because the audience knows what to expect.
- It is audience centered – this allows the audience
to know that what is coming is very important and must be paid attention to
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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
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.