Consider the content of your emails, newsletters, and staff meetings. How much energy and time do you waste trying to diverge information that no one really cares about? Let’s try to examine our communication so that we are hitting the proverbial nail on the head.
Currently, I’m preparing for the beginning of the school year. Part of this planning is putting together a plan for communication to all of the stakeholders of the school. Granted, communication is best utilized individually but reality doesn’t allow a person to meet individually for every communication. So what things should you consider when planning communication to larger groups of people?
- Content (What are you trying to say?): Getting to the real meat of the message is difficult for some of us who talk for a living. Most of the time, those you lead aren’t really interested in the process. They simply want to learn the parts that will help them obtain their mission. What parts of your communication are basically fluff and can easily be eliminated? I always tell people that unless you can explain something in terms that a child can understand, you really don’t understand it yourself.
- Method (How will they best receive the message?): Educators are suckers for innovation. Millennials tend to be innovative simply for the sake of being cool and cutting edge. This is a mistake. The whole point of different methods of communicating is to make sure the message is received. Depending on the group you’re meeting with, this may mean lecture-style presentations, group discussions, paper newsletters, emails, blogs, social media, etc. Step back and examine your audience. Which method will they most likely receive?
- Frequency (How often do you communicate?): Ineffective communicators are like young men who never seem to take a breath before their next sentence. Effective communicators are a breath of fresh air for their school. They are like the old man in the corner of the room. When he speaks, everyone listens. They know that his message will be thoughtful and purposeful. People are more pressed for time than ever. Their attention is pulled in a hundred different ways every week. Regularly communicating with your school’s stakeholders will demand that your communication is intentional. Don’t burden them with so many communications that it becomes white noise.
These are all things that I am trying to consider when I plan on how I will communicate with staff, students, parents, and the community. Remember, I’m not an expert, just a practitioner. While looking through that lens, I do feel that these are effective principles for communicating but the specifics may change from year to year based on your message and audience. Your communication plan should be constantly evolving.
Is there anything that you would add to the list? What things are you doing that has proven effective in your school/organization?