What makes for good written communication? For starters, knowing your audience is key. Understanding what your readers need or want to know is foundational in crafting your messaging. When communicating at the organizational or corporate level, you’ll undoubtedly have numerous groups on the receiving end of your commentary. The broader your audience, the higher level the messaging needs to be.
In addition to knowing your audience, it will be critical to hold their attention over the span of your communication. Compelling and relevant content is essential. If your message is too long, too complex or too granular, you are likely to lose the reader’s attention and miss an opportunity to extend your communication reach.
In my experience, the best organizational or corporate level communications include three key components. They are comprehensive, consistent and concise. This applies to all target audiences. While my audience has been primarily a financial one, it is crucial to educate them on the broader messaging as well as financial details.
When communicating at the organizational level it is important to share a comprehensive message, spanning the full mix of audiences. Regardless of the group – employees, customers, partners, prospects, investors, donors, volunteers, users or others, the goal is for everyone to have a clear understanding of the organization. Using an analogy, this is an onion level view. For any of the relevant groups referenced above, you can then peel back layers, sharing deeper insights and relevant details tailored to the specific audience needs. For example, addressing a financial audience, you may delve into detailed financial performance, key operational metrics and projections following the overview commentary.
Having a consistent message allows the content to take hold and be retained. There is strength in a message that is and can be easily repeated. The audiences are then able to further share your message creating a powerful marketing network effect. Like an orchestra playing from the same sheet music, the message can be amplified through broad and consistent reach. For example, information shared with investors should be consistent with messaging shared with customers, employees and others.
The quote “if I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter”, speaks volumes on the challenges of brevity. Writing content that is short, sweet and to the point is hard. And while it may take longer, the benefits of concise communications are many. They tend to be easier to understand, remember and share, again facilitating greater reach for your message. Complex messages can often benefit from a visual representation. A picture truly can be worth a thousand words when conveying complicated matters.
If this communications overview seems full of common sense, take a moment and think about how often organization level communications miss the mark of comprehensive, consistent and concise content. This concept is simple and intuitive, yet its execution can often be anything but easy.
What about verbal communications? While this is the subject of a future post, all of the above input applies and now you are adding in the human factor. Our voices and body language can easily provide a whole other layer of information to what we are communicating.
Anne Marie McCauley is a strategic business professional with extensive experience across investor relations, finance and leadership coaching. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 650-380-2840.