Hello budding brilliant communicators! So, assuming last week’s post convinced you that you really need to understand your audiences to be a great communicator, you may be wondering ‘Now what? How do I get into my audience’s heads? How do I give them what they want?’
My favorite method is an old chestnut from my PR agency days: The Who/What/What table.
Let’s make one now! Get a piece of paper. (I’ll wait.) OK, now turn it sideways (landscape view). Draw three large vertical columns. Your first column heading is: Audience. The second column heading: What they think now. The third column heading: What I want them to think.
Then, draw several horizontal rows across the columns – one for each audience segment you are trying to reach. Be detailed. “Employees” as a category doesn’t work – your engineering team thinks and wants something different than your sales team. Customers in different verticals buy from you for different reasons, have different market pressures, so refine that section too. Add influencers, partners, competitors, etc. Every audience on your radar screen goes on the list. The better your audience list is, the better your end product will be.
The tricky parts come next. For each audience, identify what they think now about whatever it is you’re communicating about – your new product strategy, your reorg, your vision for the market. Do not make this part up. Gather evidence – what you’ve read in their e-mails, what they’ve said to you 1:1. You are building context, spelunking into the minds of your audiences. This information is the foundation of your evangelism plan.
The third column is more creative. What do you want each of your audiences to think about your project? In this exercise you’re tailoring your message for each segment. Example: When you’re telling your engineering team about the new company strategy you might emphasize the innovative approach, when you’re talking to sales you could talk about how the strategy will help open new markets.
If you want extra credit, you can add a fourth column to your chart – How. This is where you turn yourself into a communications strategist. Ask yourself: Based on what I know about each audience – how will I persuade them to think what I want them to think? Will it take data? A logical argument? An inspiring story? Validation from experts? And what’s the best channel to reach them?
When you really think from your audience’s perspective and do everything you can to speak to their needs and their aspirations you are well on your way to becoming a great evangelist!