In all forms of communication, clarity of the message is key if you want the message to be understood as intended. This is particularly true in managing projects where many of the people you need to communicate with can be somewhat removed from the day to day project activities.
Sending out a communication is a bit like using a megaphone. What goes in is clear, but the megaphone can distort the sound. And the further away you are, the greater the distortion.
The clarity of your message, or lack of clarity, creates a cone of uncertainty around its interpretation, with that uncertainty getting greater the further removed from the day to activity of the project. Really clear messages or communications have a narrow cone of uncertainty.
So how can you improve the clarity of your communications?
Know your audience. Take time to think about the audience of your message. Ensure you frame your communications on the basis of the recipient and not the sender. Put yourself in their shoes.
Consider the likely knowledge of the audience and how that might influence their interpretation. What do they know about your project? What have you already told them, and how much of it will they remember? It’s may be useful to start with a recap of the project so far.
Keep it simple. Complexity can reduce understanding so keep the messages as simple as possible.
Test your message on some sample recipients. Ask them how they interpret the message. Don’t give clarifications until you have their full feedback. After all, you wont have those conversations with everyone once the message is broadcast.
Use a survey to test understanding and gather opinions. It will help understand any shortcomings in the current communications so that future ones can be improved.
Be open, honest and sincere. You will be less likely to mislead if you are open and honest. Word gets out and if you bend the truth recipients will start to distrust what you say.
Finally, if you are delivering the message yourself by way of a presentation or speech, remember: