In last week’s Wisdom we talked about the megaphone, every word and action from a leader is amplified and interpreted. This is not all bad news. The amplification of messages can be used for good as well, if done right, amplification can make the job of a leader much easier.
Public speakers learn that “It doesn’t matter what you intended to say. It’s what landed with the audience that counts.” The only thing that matters is the message received by your audience. This is true for leaders as well. Whether it is a large message for the whole company and its stakeholders, one-on-one feedback, briefing your team, or a passing comment in the hallway, it’s the message that is received by the audience that counts. That’s because the message that lands — not your intent — is what will inspire action, or reaction.
Three questions to answer before you send a message:
- What is your intended outcome for this message?
In other words, how do you want the message to “land” with the audience. The best way to make sure the message landed the way you intended is to ask for feedback, or to confirm understanding. If it is a very important communique, it may be a good idea to test drive the message with a few trusted colleagues or advisors.
- What do you want the audience to think and feel when they receive this message?
This question helps you plan the content – what facts and figures are required to convince the audience and move them to action. It also helps you determine the tone and other non-verbal aspects of the message – how should this message be delivered to have the impact you desire. How does it tie in to the Mission, Vision and Values? Messages receive by the heart and mind will be the most impactful.
- If your message is received successfully, what will be the outcome? What will be different? What will remain the same?
These questions help to review the intended outcomes – are they realistic? Is the outcome feasible? If not, revise and start with question 1 until the message is fine-tuned and ready to deliver.
Being deliberate and thoughtful in your communication is one of the most important aspects of leadership. A miscommunication will literally fly through the grapevine at the speed of light with social media. Consistent well framed messages create an atmosphere of trust and reliability. Important messages will be delivered on a continual basis for a long time, so continue learning, adapting and testing until the message lands exactly as intended, and make sure the rest of your team can deliver important messages with the same impact and clarity.
How many people know at least some of the words to the Beatle’s “Yesterday”, or “Let it be”, and are not afraid to share their singing talent when they hear the song being played? If you’re under 50 and know the songs, it solidifies that repetition and amplification of a perfectly crafted and delivered message can last a lifetime and more. Every town hall won’t produce a hit single, but leaders who look to master message preparation and delivery will win hearts and minds more often that those who don’t.