Let’s say you’ve been invited to a meeting to discuss communicating a new initiative to employees. The meeting is likely to go like this:

  • The team leader presents an overview
  • Other team members share their project plans
  • A few minutes are devoted to answering questions
  • The hour is over, and you leave with the assignment of creating a communication strategy

But, wait! It’s likely that you don’t really have enough information to go on. Initiative teams usually focus on getting the project approved and on how they’re going to get the work done, not on how employees will be affected. They probably don’t haven’t even discussed some of the key things employees will want to know.

You’re going to need a bigger boat for all the information you need. So your first step should be to schedule at least one follow-up conversation with one or more team members.

Once you’ve got that conversation on the calendar, put together a list of questions. Here are 13 to stimulate your thinking:

  • Who are the stakeholders? What are their roles?
  • Who will be involved in managing the change? Who are key influencers or decision makers?
  • Who are the target audiences?
  • What do we know about the audiences’ demographics?
  • What are the audience’s needs and preferences?
  • What have been their change experiences—good, bad and ugly? How will those experiences affect their response to this initiative?
  • What is the team’s desired communication outcomes? What do you need the audiences to know/believe and do?
  • What issues will affect the outcome? What barriers will you face?

Once you get answers to these (and your other) questions, you’ll be ready to build an effective strategy.

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