Articles Tagged with communication

Finding your voice – online discussion 6 August

When asked to host an online discussion at betternetworking.co.uk at 8pm on Thursday 6th August 2009, I chose the title ‘Finding Your Voice’.

Communication is the primary business tool. Whether you’re negotiating finance with the bank, instructing suppliers, motivating staff or selling to customers, you depend on words to inform people and to persuade them to take action. Instructions have to be clear, motivational messages inclusive and marketing messages compelling: our choice of words and how we use them can determine whether or not we achieve our business objectives.

If you’d like to  join in the chat on Thursday, visit betternetworking.co.uk.

An obligation to entertain

When I write for pleasure, I write to entertain myself. There’s no point in doing it if my audience – me – is not entertained. If other people are entertained by my writing as well, that’s a bonus.

When writing for other people, either businesses or theatre audiences, I have an obligation to entertain them. If not, businesses won’t read what I write and audiences will lose interest and walk out of a show.

It doesn’t matter how factual or important content is, people need to be entertained to take note of the message that’s being communicated.

Often this gets lost in the scramble to use technology to communicate. It doesn’t matter whether the message is written in 140 characters on twitter or daubed on a plywood sign at the side of the road: if it isn’t entertaining, people won’t take notice.

So do you need a creative person to write for you? They certainly should be able to help, but there’s nothing to stop anyone writing entertaining copy.

Think of it as telling a story or joke to your friends or recounting your latest achievement in your favourite hobby or sport. If you can make these sound exciting and communicate your enthusiasm, then why not anything else? All right, I recently struggled to make a piece on sewers entertaining, so there are some topics where a little extra effort can be required.

Always remember that, whatever the format or delivery method, we are obliged to entertain our audience.

That’s all for now, folks!

Talking is a tool to help weather the economic storm

Even without the BBC’s financial crisis logo, it’s easy to see that conditions are challenging for many sectors. With Vodafone reported as looking to make £1 billion in cutbacks and BT reported to be making 10,000 redundancies, the fallout will start hitting the wider community now and in early 2009, as it impacts on the suppliers of these big companies. From there it will spread to shops and other service providers of the people made redundant.

This scenario looks pretty bleak when transferred to other big companies and we must take it seriously. But is there anything else businesses can do to weather the storm? Of course, there is.

Communication, as ever, is the key. Companies must not only communicate more effectively with their customers to maintain sales, but they must talk internally. People get worried and want to be reassured. Executives can probably do most to improve performance by getting out there and talking to their employees. Tell them what’s happening. Listen to what employees say. Start to work together.

It doesn’t have to cost anything; the best communication is face-to-face. 

By coincidence, on the 25th anniversary of when I joined British Airways telephone sales, today brings back the memory of when, because there were very heavy call volumes on a Monday, the management asked us to give up our Monday morning tea break in return for free tea and doughnuts. These refreshments were served to us by managers and supervisors pushing trolleys round the reservations floor. It felt a bit like the war spirit: there was a problem and everyone chipped in to solve it. It also led me to say that I’d do anything for a cup of tea and a doughnut.

Anyway, it was a department of some 600 people. Now, say that 200 were manning the phones at that specific time and the tea break was 10 minutes long (from my memory), that’s over 33 extra productive hours available to BA on those mornings. It also meant happy customers, who didn’t have to hang on the phone to get through, and more sales. And all for the cost of some doughnuts and tea. How many companies these days would waste those 33 hours in meetings, agonising over what to do?

So businesses need to respond to their people. Get them on board and who knows what you’ll be capable of achieving? It need not take more than a bit of effort to achieve incredible results. What is there to lose?

It all starts with communication.

Do you have anything to say?

There is so much information published today, but how much of it do you find useful?

If you’re running a business, it is vital to broadcast messages to potential customers, suppliers, the media and other audiences. Yet they are being bombarded with messages from every side, so how can you get through to them?

The answer is to be selective. Select the message you want to get across and the audience you need to reach. Is it a message that this audience will be interested in? If not, how can you make them interested? If you’re just trotting out the same words that everyone else is using, your communication will be ignored, along with millions of others.

So what can you do?

Make sure you know your audience and that it is the right one for you. For example, would an audience of over-50s be interested in baby goods aimed at young families. On the face of it: no. But could you interest them as grandparents to buy the products for their grandchildren? This is why it is important to analyse your audience thoroughly to ensure you are targeting people who will take the action you require – usually making a purchase.

Once you’ve identified the right audience, you need to identify what excites them. If they are not excited by your message, they won’t take the action you require of them.

It’s likely that you have many competitors doing the same thing, so it is a challenge to think up a new message, but it is possible. And when you do find the right message and an innovative way of presenting it, it will make a real difference to your results.

People will only take notice if something catches their attention. It is better not to publish something that is ordinary, non-targeted and unexciting. Be selective: you may have to work harder, but it will be worth it.

Robert

Communication overload causes confusion . . . and prevents understanding

We all suffer from it, because modern technology has increased the quantity and frequency of the communications we receive, while traditional editing skills have been largely forgotten.

When we are overwhelmed by so much irrelevant information, we miss or misunderstand those messages which are important to us.

Every wrong piece of information costs you time, money and reputation:

  • A wrongly delivered product requires you to collect and replace it.
  • A wrong meeting date wastes your time and travel.
  • An unclear press announcement attracts enquiries from the wrong audience – who have no interest in the products and services you provide – while missing the target audience who do want what you offer.

As a result, service suffers, product quality plummets, reputation tarnishes and customers shrink away.

Make yourself understood . . .

. . . so your business runs more smoothly.

Precise and accurate messages enable your people to work more effectively. They reduce your costs and increase quality, because everyone understands what they do and why they do it:

  • The right product is delivered first time to a satisfied customer.
  • You arrive for your meeting on time in a confident frame of mind.
  • Your press announcement attracts the enquiries you want.

Your service is seamless, your products are perfect, your reputation shines and your customers multiply.

Speak clear messages . . .

. . . so that every audience you reach understands you in whatever medium you use:

Employees – are motivated by your newsletters, intranets and all other forms of internal communication.

Departments – work together more effectively with less friction, because everyone understands the importance of good inter-departmental relationships to the overall success of your organisation.

Partners and suppliers – understand your vision and their role within it, so that all your collaborative activities succeed.

Customers – understand who you are and why you are important to them – through your newsletters, speeches, press releases, presentations, web sites, sales letters and face-to-face contact with your people.

Business is understanding . . .

. . . what each of your audiences wants and communicating effectively, so that everyone understands everyone else clearly.

Speak less, say more . . .

. . . with effective, professional written and spoken communications from Zarywacz.

We focus entirely on your message – whether it’s a short sales letter or a company-wide communications programme – to ensure that you are understood.

We aim to reduce the quantity and length of your communications to make them all shorter, sharper and more easily understood – to save your time and money, enhance your reputation and boost your success.

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