We communicate all day, every day, in various ways: through speaking, email, text message, social media or simple gestures. However, all communication is not the same. Emails can often be read with an unintended tone. A sentence that seem clear to the writer might confuse the reader. These miscommunications can negatively impact your school’s intended message. That’s why developing a strong communication strategy is important.
Developing a communication strategy
Know your audience
Will you communicate with students the same way you communicate with faculty? Probably not. In order to make the most of your communication, be prepared to craft messages based on your audience. Establish early on who your audience will be and the best platforms to reach that group, because it will influence how your message is crafted.
Understand the bigger picture
Anticipating how your message will be met by the recipient will help you strategize how to best approach the subject. A topic like early course materials adoptions will probably have greater importance to you than it does to individual faculty members. So, how can you change your message reflect that understanding? How can you help the faculty member understand how early adoptions fit into the bigger picture of student savings?
Identify your takeaways
Don’t crowd everything you need on a variety of subjects into one communication. When I worked for a university, part of my job was communicating with faculty and departments. I would send emails with three or four questions that I needed answered, but the response would inevitably come back with an answer to only one of the questions. Know what message you want to impart with each communication. Are you educating about a service or initiative? If so, keep the message focused solely on that topic. Make the takeaways easy to spot and identify.
Craft your story
Real life experiences are a memorable and influential way to communicate. In fact, evolutionary psychologist Robin Dunbar’s research says that 65% of our conversations are through storytelling. Sharing information through stories helps to make topics more relatable no matter what form of communication you choose. This doesn’t mean you want to pass along fiction, but sharing real experiences with strategic intent can have a longer lasting impact, than simply sharing a list of facts.
Include a call to action
Reading or hearing a message that requires no follow up on your part makes the entire communication easy to forget. When you add a call to action to the communication, it helps root the topic in the recipient’s mind. Inviting feedback is an easy way to add a call to action to most communications. Follow up on the feedback you receive. That will help you build trust and demonstrate to people that their input is valuable.
Brief and clear messages have a greater impact. A concise message will help you establish credibility because you are passing along a easily understood communication with little to no room for misinterpretation. Look no further than Amazon to see this method in practice. Amazon Prime is actually a fairly large and complex program with several benefits to those who subscribe. However, when you look at their marketing message it is simple and clear: free two-day shipping. The program’s success and the consumer buy-in was faster than anyone could have anticipated.