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Guest

Six Tips to Clear and Effective Communication

By: Guest | October 8, 2012 | 
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Today’s guest post is by Luke Capizzo

With rapidly multiplying communications channels and increasingly instantaneous expectations, one critical piece of our basic writing can be lost: The correct tone and organization to get our messages across effectively.

We’re constantly searching for how to get more accomplished while staring at glowing rectangles.

The answer can be as straightforward as writing internal messages with the same intensity and purpose as the big news release.

If we take the time to care about the affect of each word, we improve the understanding of all of our interactions.

When people realize we value their time enough to accurately condense our thoughts for them, they take us more seriously and not only are more likely to respond at that moment, but to pay even more attention the next time we pop into their inbox.

When the need is for action, we must use words that distill clarity and purpose. We rarely, if ever, write this way without making it a priority, and it never happens without an understanding of the communications medium, the task at hand and the recipients’ needs.

Here are my suggested six focus points to help bring clarity to your writing, and ensure the right message is being heard. 

Audience(s)

Know your readers and write so they always get the “why.”

The power we wield as writers evaporates if we misunderstand or ignore our readers. For me, focusing on audience is about understanding the correct tone, word choice, and depth of context to connect with the reader. Use technical language that goes over their head or unintentional snark, and it may be much more difficult to get what you need.

Unintended Audiences

From a retweeted tweet to a forwarded email, you never know who will see it, so stay positive!

Especially true for social media, understanding the affect your message could have on a hypothetical unintended audience is critical. Don’t forget to consider the good old-fashioned forwarded email—to the last person you’d want to see it.

Digestibility/Scanability

Few have time to read for subtlety, so keep it concise and organized. Don’t be afraid of bullets and bolding.

As closely as we should be reading our messages before we send them to the world, we must assume our readers are doing the opposite. Understanding the visual hierarchy of a variety of mediums allows you to craft messages so key points stand out (within reason, of course).

Persuasiveness

The right tone helps us encourage those we work with to get things done.

With the audience in mind, write to obtain what you need. Incorporating timeliness, clarity, and priority, use the tone that best fits the readers and is most likely to encourage them to get the work done.

Energy

Maintain verb-driven, dynamic prose—even in the shortest messages—to keep the work moving forward.

When the goal is action, convey the energy you want to see from the recipient. If you need them to be pumped up, you shouldn’t assume it will automatically happen. Don’t let your communication be what drops the proverbial ball.

Evaluation

After the fact, ask yourself—did it work? Could it have been more effective?

We must make a conscious effort to evaluate and improve every day. This can only happen when we look carefully at the work we’ve done—what succeeds, what fails and what can be improved at each step.

We can’t solve every problem with better communication, but we can move the needle. At a certain point, this approach and attention helps us not only write more effectively, but also think more efficiently about the way we achieve results.

 What are your thoughts? Any other suggestions on how to achieve clear and effective communication?

When he isn’t singing or doing double salchows, Luke Capizzo drives strategic communications programs for his clients as an account executive at Identity, a Michigan-based integrated public relations firm. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

13 comments
jennwhinnem
jennwhinnem

Thank you thank you thank you. I think being intentional is the way to better writing. After you these pieces in place, THEN worry about grammar, spelling, syntax.

prweb
prweb

@ThorntonLucy So important and fundamental. @CapizzoL @SpinSucks

JuliPeterson
JuliPeterson

Great post, Luke! Unintended audiences is a great one to keep in mind. Especially in social media, if your content has energy and is relevant to more than just your niche audience, you can attract more followers.  I also love this phrase: "Maintain verb-driven, dynamic prose." I love your writing, Luke!

3HatsComm
3HatsComm

Kinda disagree at the end there - I think better communication (empowered and financed and in control) may be the silver bullet, the magic formula to fixing almost anything. You've kind of outlined why: communication is the backbone of learning and teaching, of understanding and development, of getting things done. It's how we live, work, write, sell, how we get results. Part of it is research - how else will you know your audience, targeted or accidental? How else will you know if the message you crafted is the one they understood? And FWIW I love 'energy' - need to write with more action myself, thanks.

Anri Ober
Anri Ober

There are tones of posts where it's repeated every time "Write interesting things to interest audience and people will follow you". This is the first post I have read where author tried thoroughly  explain  in which way it is better to send information to the reader.

 

But of course it is impossible interest every person in social media sphere as there gathered all kind of people exist in the world who have higher education, secondary education and has no education at all.

Nikki Little
Nikki Little

Great suggestions, Luke! I agree with all of these, but I think the digestibility and scanability are so important. I can't tell you how many times I've sent an email with three questions just to get a response with one answer. Now, I always put bullets in longer emails and bold parts that I want to stand out. That strategy has definitely helped! 

jennwhinnem
jennwhinnem

From this day forth @ginidietrich I promise I will not get on my grammar rant box on your blog again, because @CapizzoL 's strategy to build a foundation + @ginidietrich 's grammar & spelling tips = great writing!

 

My name is Jenn Whinnem and I approve of this message.

CapizzoL
CapizzoL

 @JuliPeterson Thanks Juli! It's always a struggle to identify who would be part of an unintended audience, but worth remembering the basics: staying positive, task-focused and remembering that, particularly with social media, these comments can live FOREVER.

CapizzoL
CapizzoL

 @3HatsComm Appreciate the response! I agree that the research piece is absolutely critical, both before and after the fact. We don't know what we don't know and even a basic understanding of our success or failure depends on that feedback.

CapizzoL
CapizzoL

 @Anri Ober Thanks Anri! Writing for an audience is easy to talk about, but much more difficult to do well. Hopefully this gives you some more concrete ways to approach communicating--whatever form it takes.

CapizzoL
CapizzoL

 @Nikki Little Appreciate that Nikki! The biggest struggle I have on these day-to-day is trying to squeeze too much information into one message. Bullets not only make the information clearer, they help me to limit myself to only the necessary content for one message.

CapizzoL
CapizzoL

 @jennwhinnem  @ginidietrich Thanks so much! "Intentional" is a great word. "Conscious writing" is another way to think of it: We write so much everyday, it's easy to tune out, but we have to stay engaged. The other side of the coin is that we have to be able to support and justify every decision we make as a writer and editor--both in terms of the tone/style and the grammar. Use the tools that work best for you!

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