Keys to Good Communication Are Overlooked. Bringin’ Back the Basics

 In Blog

By: Shawna Simcik

The election and Trump’s presidency has proven to be nothing short of controversial, to say the least. One of the points of disagreement is Mr. Trump’s use of Twitter and his communication. Regardless of your political view, I think we can agree that good ol’ communication is key, especially in times of change.

In our haste of day-to-day activities, get ‘er done attitude and 140 character limits, keys to good communication are often overlooked. So, I’d like to offer a quick and dirty, no-nonsense refresher on communicating effectively.

Don’t forget the 4 Ps (and the R) next time you craft an email, a presentation or are having an important one-on-one conversation.

  • P – Purpose: Describe why you are making a change. What is the purpose of the change? Help your audience see the change rather than simply spouting off facts and data.
  • P – Picture: Describe what the future will look like after a change. Help the audience feel what it will be like once a change has occurred. Create the visual or, better yet, create a graph or a picture with lots of color and demonstrate what will be different after a change has happened.
  • P – Plan: Describe the steps you need to take to get there (wherever there is). Help your audience know how we/the organization will get there. Use this as an opportunity to acknowledge that you may not have all the steps to the plan yet but will communicate again when you have more definitive plans.
  • P – Part: Describe the part you need the audience member to play in the change. Be as specific as possible and help them feel it personally.
  • And, finally REPEAT, REPEAT, REPEAT! Once is never enough. If you need an example:  have you heard the slogan, “got milk”? This has been repeated for 21 years. Some researchers suggest repeating a message three times will work, but many believe, especially in today’s crazy communication overload tech-world, the new rule is 6 to 20 times. As President Nixon once stated, “You know, when I’m tired of hearing it, I know my staff has gotten it. And when my staff is tired of hearing it, I know the press corps has gotten it. And when the press corps is tired of hearing it, I know the nation has gotten it.”

I leave you with one situation with two different email messages describing the changes. Comment and tell me which one would be more effective as you implement this change. Can you identify the four Ps within the message?

Situation: A policy change to the way parents drop off children at school. Which message from the administration should be delivered to the teachers for it to be most effective?

Message #1: We are making a change to the ways parents must drop off their students. Rather than having 3 teachers out front, we will now have all teachers K-8 outside opening doors for students as they exit the car. You need to be out front every morning at 7:00 am. Thank you.

Message #2: We are making a change to the ways parents must drop off their students. Rather than having 3 teachers out front, we will now have all teachers K-8 outside opening doors for students as they exit the car. We are making this change because we heard from you that too many students are arriving tardy because of the slow drop-off process. Imagine all students in their seats within 5 minutes of the morning bell and you are ready to start your day on time. So, here is the plan. We are going to have a rotating schedule, and we have identified how many days it turns into for you. Moving forward, we want you to be involved in helping us create the schedule. Trust me, I realize that no one reading this message wants to stand out in the bitter Colorado cold, but imagine all student sitting in their seats and you have an extra 15 minutes in your day. You are going to help us plan and open the doors for us. And help us make this as efficient as possible to ensure minimal inconvenience to each one of you. Please feel free to ask us questions in the town hall meeting we will host tomorrow, and if we can’t answer these in the group setting, please see me individually and we’ll answer those.


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