Getting to a clear message

“If you can’t write your message in a sentence, you can’t say it in an hour” – Dianna Booher

Communication, particularly at work, is often a bit muddled and confused. When I am trying to create my own messaging, I use the following checklist to help me ensure that I am being as clear as possible:

What is the outcome I want? Specifically, for my audience:

  • What do I want them to know?
  • How do I want them to feel?
  • What do I want them to do?

What is the core message that will get my audience to that outcome?

  • Am I communicating a concept (high level) or is this a data-driven or other precise outcome (detailed)?

How will they digest that message?

  • Will they read it (email or blog post)?
  • Will they read it and then we will discuss it (distribution followed by a meeting)?
  • Will I present it to them (so they will listen and read at the same time)?

[This is where I take a first shot at the message]

Is there a better message I could use to achieve the outcome?

  • I usually iterate here a few times as it’s rare to get it right in the first shot. I then try the message out with an initial audience if possible.

Once the core message is there, can I make my message clearer?

  • Is everything self-explanatory? Meaning if someone picked it up without context, would they know why it exists?
  • Where can I eliminate text that is not adding meaning?
  • Where can I simplify the wording or words themselves?
  • If I have a visual, is it as simple as possible?
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