Why your audience is critical to your success

No matter which workshop I’m teaching, we always talk about ‘the audience’ of your communication. Because the audience is relevant, whether you’re delivering a presentation, crafting a report, giving an update in a meeting, or writing an email.

In fact, if you’re communicating anything – to anyone – you have an audience, which is fantastic: It’s an opportunity for you to share, connect and add value to others.

And when you do that, you can create positive change and growth: for your audience, for you, for your company, for the world.

Take advantage of the opportunity

Your audience wants something from you. They want you to give them wisdom, insight, facts and figures, results of research, a recommendation, details on the new process, etc. And they want you not to waste their time, because they are all busy.

In business, your audience might be a set of stakeholders that you communicate with regularly. Do you know exactly who they are and what they need from you?

A real-life stakeholder conundrum

In a recent presentation I gave to a group of audit executives at the Audit Challenge in Frankfurt, we talked about audit report stakeholders, and how knowing their needs drives audit’s success in an organization.

Case in point: There were 12 participants in one my audit report writing workshops earlier in the year. I asked two questions at the beginning of the first day of the workshop:

  1. Who are your stakeholders?
  2. What do they need from your audit reports?

I got eight different opinions, not just on stakeholder needs, but on who those main stakeholders were. (Nope, not kidding!)

Why were there so many different opinions, especially since all of the participants worked for the same company?

Blame it on poor communication

I believe it was a communication issue, or to be more precise, a ‘lack of communication’ issue.

This team couldn’t agree on who their main stakeholders were because they had never discussed it before. They had assumed it was clear within the team, but that wasn’t the reality.

Not having agreement on who their main stakeholders were created the follow-on challenge of trying to identify the most critical information to include in the audit reports.

As a result, this team’s reports were not as effective as audit management wanted. Their department was not adding the desired value to the organization. And that can spell disaster for long-term trust, confidence and growth.

The lesson learned

This team learned that they needed to regroup and ask some questions, both internally within their department and externally within the company.

  • Who are the potential stakeholders of their reports?
  • Of those, who are the main stakeholders?

Then they put themselves in the shoes of those main stakeholders and asked:

  • What would I need from the audit reports to do my job better?

The department then took a very important step:

  • They asked these stakeholders what they wanted from the audit reports.

Finally, the department compared this information to their own ideas, and made minor modifications to the audit report template and guidance to ensure their stakeholder needs were being met – and ideally, exceeded.

Applying these lessons to your communication

You may not be an auditor, but there may be takeaways for you, too, in this tale.

Every time you communicate with an audience, learn who they are and what they need and want from you. Then make sure you give it to them.

You may want to give them more, but don’t give more without giving what’s truly needed. And don’t give them so much that they can’t find what they need because of excess information.

And remember: Your stakeholders’ needs can change over time. So if you have an audience you communicate with regularly, make sure to build in a mechanism to find out if their needs and wants have changed. The information you provide will stay relevant, and so will you!

Wishing you every success in your communication!

All the best,

Tracie Marquardt

Quality Assurance Communication

My Top 5 Communication Techniques and Strategies for Content Creation

Top 5 Techniques & Strategies for Content Creation by Tracie Marquardt

It’s hard to believe the year is almost half over… it seems like it was just winter. Here we are though, summer tires on our cars, the kids on school holiday (again), and gardens blooming with color. It’s a perfect time to take stock of our communication skills and fill in any gaps.

That’s why I’ve put together this list of my top 5 communication techniques and strategies for content creation and added links to my previous articles so you can drill-down for more detail.

1. Know Your Audience

Tailor your content by putting yourself in your audience’s shoes. Figure out what they need to know and give it to them in a way that is easy for them to take decisions, make recommendations, and then take action.

Knowing Your Audience is Key to Your Success

 

2. Avoid the So-What Syndrome

There are some simple things you can do to avoid the So-What Syndrome: Interpret data and charts for your audience, link your arguments to show cause and effect, and ask for explicit action to be taken. Doing these things will help keep your audience attentive, and if executed with skill, should help you achieve your desired result.

How to Avoid the So What Syndrome and Get Results

 

3. Ask yourself WHY

Test your analysis and reasoning by asking yourself ‘Why?’ as you review your conclusions and related support. You’ll ensure your arguments are grounded. Then ask ‘Why?’ as you review each of your recommendations, to ensure they fill the gap you identified in your analysis.

5 Strategic Reasons to Asky Why (And Get Better Results)

 

4. Critically Review Your Document

Ensure the content of your document is relevant, factual and appropriate. Don’t forget to include the impact on the business because it usually helps persuade others to see our point of view. In addition, consider how your key messages will be received by the others. You’ll want to make sure your tone is appropriate and doesn’t cause your target audience to be offended.

I’m Writing to Apologize for My Last Email

 

5. Create Presentation Slides That Support Your Key Messages

Ensure your presentation slides are crisp, clear, concise and meaningful, and keep your audience’s attention on YOU and your key messages. Top techniques and tools for mastering slide creation include having only one key message per slide, choosing meaningful images in context, and using callout boxes to highlight your key messages.

11 Smart Slide Creation Techniques Your Audience Will Thank You For

 

What are your go-to techniques and strategies for creating amazing content in your documents and presentations? Let me know in the comments below.

All the best,

Tracie Marquardt

Quality Assurance Communication

 

This article originally appeared on LinkedIn Pulse.