Are your communication efforts ‘average’?
Getting communications right is tricky.
Some people want visuals, some want detail, others just a quick note to let them know they’re included, but whatever the communications message to be imparted, it is terribly tempting to ‘just get some comms out’.
We know everyone is busy and they really are, but just taking a little bit of care and time over important messages will bear fruit in the end. So, what do we mean by ‘average’ communications?
Presenting long PowerPoint decks, reverting to the ‘norm’ for leadership conferences, standard talking heads videos or cramming town-halls with loads of content which simply ‘must’ be rolled out. Come on…. That’s just taking the easiest path to getting messages out there with little regard as to how they’ll be received. So why does it happen?
Unintentional lack of awareness
The author/presenter genuinely believes that telling people stuff will mean that it has been fully understood and internalized.
Unwillingness to put the effort in
You’re busy, so the quickest way to ‘get stuff out there’ is to take the path of least effort – normally slide decks of bullet points.
The perception of ‘silliness’
Anything that moves away from the hard content is perceived to be silly, wasteful or indulgent. The serious business-like way is seen to be serious business content.
Standard communications are seen as the least risky approach. No-one ever got fired for presenting a content heavy slide deck so it’s probably best to take the comfortable and safe option.
The problem with average communication though is the wasted effort, budget and opportunity that organisations are paying for every day. How many times are messages communicated in conferences, town-halls, emails, even training programmes which you could classify as ‘average’? Not enough care being taken to how that message can be brought to life and therefore it’s unlikely to be remembered or acted upon.
How much is this costing the organisation? Not only in budgetary terms (spending money on communication and engagement efforts that are likely to be ineffective) but also the opportunity costs; opportunities to increase productivity, drive a cultural shift or change ways of working.
Here are some ways you can avoid the average communications trap:
1. Get to the essence of the message – what is the one really important point?
2. Use visuals – they are easily understood and can convey multiple messages in seconds.
3. Be surprising – Average communicators breed average communicatees. (Is that a word? No? Well just go with it – we’re being surprising! Ed.) If people expect to be talked at for 45 minutes then they’ll mentally prepare themselves to not listen for 42. Add an element of surprise to get people hooked in quickly.
4. Get people involved – let people interact with your content – run exercises, activities and games to create interest and involvement. It just helps people to connect to the point you are trying to make.
5. Avoid being ‘corporate’ – Business is serious, but it needn’t be dull. By making communication more relaxed and friendly, then people will feel able to engage on a more human level.
An example of what not being average looks like…
Purple Monster are currently working with a client to help roll out a global programme about Cyber-Security in a manufacturing setting. It’s technical, complicated and full of IT information that is critically important but also difficult for engineering staff to understand as it isn’t their area of expertise.
This organisation wanted us to help them translate their cyber-security content into a series of workshops focused on the key benefit for the engineering teams. So we created a picture of a manufacturing plant including making invisible cyber threats visible.
Activities have been designed to interact with the picture. Where technical content is required then it has been drafted into an overall ‘flow’ which makes all the sessions hang together and the key messages reinforced throughout.
For the relatively small outlay of our involvement, this global engineering function are now much more likely to not only understand the importance of being cyber vigilant but what they need to do in order to protect their plant. This enhanced knowledge could ultimately prevent shut-downs costing millions of pounds. All by this organisation choosing to not fall into the average comms trap.
Don't go for average!
We are experts in bringing creative and ‘different’ approaches to corporate communications and engagement.