Focus on the message before the method

When I reflect on the time between my teenage years and now, I realize that I’ve used at least a dozen different tools to communicate with others – house phone, pager, snail mail, e-mail, chat room, instant messaging, cell phone, texting, tweeting, facebooking, video sharing, and blogging. While some of these tools have phased out, others are beginning to emerge and grow.

As on a personal level, there are several ways to communicate professionally. It is important to remember, however, that whichever method of communication is selected, your message must be clear and easy to understand. None of these tools are effective if you cannot convey your message correctly.

First, ask yourself what you want to communicate to your audience. Is it meaningful and valuable to them? If not, then reconsider communicating that piece of information. Once you know what you want to tell them, craft a message that is simple, but well said. Flowery and lengthy messages may overwhelm the reader and keep them from reading the message at all. Instead, give the person the choice to obtain more information on their own. For example, use a link or attachment in an email, or refer to a website in a tweet, phone call, press release, advertisement, etc.

Once you have a well-crafted message, you can then select the appropriate method to communicate it. To an extent, your audience will determine the tool that you use. If you are communicating to stockholders, you probably would not want to send financial updates through a tweet. If you are communicating a new offering designed for an online community, however, you would want to use that social media tool to distribute the message. And as digital media becomes easier to use, a video message may be the best way to showcase a new product or service.

There are situations where multiple methods of communication are appropriate. Say that your company is merging with a competitor. You would have several people you would need to inform, including customers, employees/reps, the media, the community, and investors. An e-mail and/or letter would be appropriate for some and a press release would be more appropriate for others. If a social network is already developed, you would want to announce the news through that community, with a link to more information.

Whichever method you select, remember to communicate clearly. If your message is on target, then the right communication tools will help you hit the bull’s-eye.

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