The Most Important Question for Good Communication
Goal-setting is having a moment. I'm hearing about it at the gym (shoutout to Coach Steve at OPEX Fitness Regina). I'm hearing about it in my regular podcast rotation (this episode of The Femails podcast drops a few bombs). It's in performance plans, financial planning workshops, business courses. Of course, it's not a new idea—after all, it's one of the habits of highly effective people to begin with the end in mind—but I'm hearing about it everywhere right now, and I love it because I love good goals.
Every time you communicate—big multimedia campaigns to short text messages—you have a goal and the clearer you are about the goal, the easier it becomes to hit the mark. We need to understand why we are communicating and what we are trying to achieve before we decide anything else.
Without a clear idea of your ultimate goal, we can't properly determine any of the steps it will take to get you there. You need a clear goal to determine your audience, your messaging, your communication channels, your timing, what defines success…and it goes on like this. Good goals are key to good communication.
Yet it always seems to shock people when I ask them what their communication goals are. I can't tell you the number of blank looks and slack jaws I've seen when I ask someone why they want to send an email or a social media post or make a brochure. They're always taken aback, but they usually recover quickly and the answer is usually a variation on "people need to know." They're even less prepared when I question that response. Why do people need to know about this? This is when people usually start sputtering.
It can take a while to nail down the real goal. Have you ever heard of the 5 Whys Technique? The basic idea is to ask why five(ish) times to determine the root cause of a problem. The same idea transfers to finding the real goal of your communication, because it definitely goes deeper than "people need to know." Again, why do they need to know? It might take a few layers to get to the good stuff, but it’s worth the work.
Once you can answer the why, you can start to answer the:
when (timing); and
where (communication channels).
That's why finding the real goal, the real why, is the centre of a solid communication strategy or campaign plan (and it's also a great way to make your emails, presentations, conversations, and website content better, just saying).
So what's my why for this blog post? I want everyone to be a better communicator, because it just makes life easier. Seriously. But I'll be honest and tell you my secondary goal is to make sure businesses, entrepreneurs, and organizations know that they don't have to do this all on their own; I'm here to help. If you need someone to ask the right questions (maybe even five times) and find the true goal, get in touch. First coffee is on me.