Insights Blog

Help meetings reach their potential

August 27, 2015   Category: Meetings and conferences

We’ve been thinking a lot about meetings lately.

Use the dumpster principle to streamline communication

August 20, 2015   Category: Simplify

Ever do a home renovation project requiring a dumpster? Assuming there’s room, most contractors will let you use the dumpster to throw out junk that’s been cluttering up your basement, attic, garage and closets. (After all, you’re paying for it.)

Try this inspiring exercise at a team meeting

August 13, 2015   Category: Communication function

“We’re not good at celebrating accomplishments,” said my client during a call to plan a day-long team meeting. “We’re so busy getting the work done that we seldom stop to discuss what we achieved."

Use demographics to make your case

July 29, 2015   Category: Audiences

One of our greatest challenges as communicators is to convince the CEO and other executives to do the right thing. The same characteristics that got executives where they are today—intelligence, confidence, ambition and drive—often make them poor judges of what makes communication effective.

For compelling communication, be specific

July 13, 2015   Category: Content

As someone who wants to get employees’ attention, how do you deal with the fact that words have become a commodity? Although I’m a strong advocate of simplicity, I also realize that conceptual terms (like quality, innovation, cost-efficiency, progress or customer service) are not compelling.

Are you making employees work too hard?

July 08, 2015   Category: Simplify

I just cleaned out my bulging, messy inbox (the kind with papers, not multiple emails) and came across an article I had clipped several months ago from The Economist.

Why internal clients think they know as much about communication as you do

June 22, 2015   Category: Planning and strategy

Last week, I facilitated a learning session on how to become a strategic advisor with a group of communicators at a client company.

As a warm-up exercise, I separated the group into teams and asked each team to come up with a list of obstacles to being treated as an advisor.

It should be no surprise that the #1 problem on each team’s list was “internal clients believe they know the best way to communicate.” One team even put it this way: “(Clients) think they know MORE about communication than we do.”

While it’s true that everyone thinks he or she knows a lot about communication, you have the power to change the perception that any random VP knows as much as you do. 

How? By acting like the expert that you are. Here are five ways to do so:

  1. Be an authority on your audience(s). Understand who they are (demographics), what they need and prefer—and, most importantly, what they do with communication.
  2. Focus on objectives. Internal clients are quick to seize upon tactics: “We need a video to communicate X.” By guiding the discussion to desired outcomes, you avoid the tactical trap and give yourself room to offer a more strategic approach.
  3. Ask tough questions. Clients often approach communication in a superficial way: “This press release needs to go out announcing our new service.” You make a contribution by asking questions like: “Why is this important? How is this different? What will customers need to know? Are there any issues that may come up?”
  4. Offer intriguing, unexpected and sometimes unachievable ideas. So much of communication is same stuff, different day. When the answer to every question is “send an email,” it’s no wonder clients believe they can come up with what to do. But when you bring original thinking, you add value. (Even impractical ideas are valid, since they encourage a fresh approach.)
  5. Show results. Quite simply, sharing metrics demonstrate the impact of your work. That builds tremendous credibility.

I just thought of a sixth suggestion: Exude confidence. You’re the professional. You have great experience. And you do know more about communication than your clients. So own your strength

To write compelling headlines, read tabloids

June 11, 2015   Category: clear

A moment, of silence, please, for Vincent Musetto, who died this week. Mr.

Did employees really receive that vital HR information?

May 27, 2015   Category: HR communication

Out of all the dumb assumptions in employee communication, perhaps the most problematic is this: “If we build it (or post it or print it), employees will understand.”

A terrible town hall mistake: too many topics

May 20, 2015   Category: Town halls

I just returned from the PRSA Connect 15 conference, where I spoke about employee town halls. And I wasn’t surprised to learn that one of communicators’ biggest challenges is having to include too many topics.