Communicating with Stakeholders

Often we see communication as a way to get our message across to our audience but rarely do we work on how our audience like to receive messages.

We may be sending out messages that we believe to be very important but if those messages are not being received, it nullifies the transmission, leaving our message in the air, so to speak. We need to understand what the best method is for our audience to receive messages. By this I mean artefacts, do they want emails, presentations, workshops, personal time?

Lets consider the four elements of what you can do to ensure your audience WANTS to communicate with you.

  1. Type of message: If we send out a message to a person who is not tuned into receiving a particular type of artefact, you effectively are wasting your time and theirs. Personally I detest long emails telling me some kind of story that I have to figure out. I just look at it and zone out. Others may be different, they want you to provide all the information possible so that they can quietly go through what it means. It is your job to figure out what they need to hear and how, not their job to try understand you.
  2. How often: Another factor is frequency, do they want to hear from you everyday? How often should you be engaging and why? There is nothing more annoying than having to listen to the same story day in and day out.
  3. Why: Next on the list is a key question I like to ask, “Why do they care about what you have to say?” Just because you believe it is important, that doesn’t mean it actually is. If you know your audience really well then it is highly likely you will be able to know why they care. If you don’t know your audience, you will have to find out what it is that makes them care about what you have to say, preferably before you say it.
  4. How much: Finally lets consider volume. For instance your audience have said that they like to be emailed. Is that a long email with lots of detail or a simple summary? In a workshop do you give a manual or just a couple of note pages? When meeting someone do you bring your laptop and note books or just a cup of coffee?

Unlike a radio where we tune in to listen to a particular radio station, in our communications we need to understand what kind of station our receivers have open and get ourselves to send the right kind of message to their station.