Reaching Your Audience
We talk a lot about communication. Mostly because it’s hard to do well, and it helps to keep stakeholders on the same page. But there’s something else that motivates us.
Identifying the audience is one of the biggest challenges we face in communicating well. Who needs to hear a message? What do they need to know? When do they need to know it?
Communication influences how an audience perceives a project or event.
How and when you present a message is as important as the words or images you choose to share. Apply empathy and take time to figure out what your audience needs to know.
We often do this without thinking. For example, the executive director of a nonprofit helps staff summarize information for the board of directors so that the members can make decisions. The board doesn’t need every single detail of daily operations, but they do need specific information.
Likewise, a weekly check-in meeting with your boss or supervisor doesn’t require you to explain each task you’ve completed. Instead, what is warranted is a summary of the week plus a few high-level issues to talk through.
These same ideas apply to events.
One of the many snowstorms this winter happened on a day that Reach Partners was coordinating a conference. All but one speaker had arrived when the snow and winds began. Although attendance was lower than anticipated, the event went on.
Throughout the morning Reach was in regular communication with the speaker attempting to drive to Fargo. We kept our client in the loop and drafted a back-up plan when it appeared the speaker might not make it.
While we were communicating clearly with one of the stakeholders – our client – we weren’t sharing that information with attendees. It wasn’t going to change what they were doing at that time.
Here’s what we did: we rearranged the order of speakers and gave the emcee talking points to communicate what was happening next.
In the end, the speaker didn’t make it to Fargo. We had moved him to the end of the day on the agenda. When we got to that point, the emcee explained that the speaker couldn’t make it and, therefore, the conference was ending sooner than expected.
Throughout the day, we considered what attendees needed to know and when it was best to communicate that information.
It’s important to remember that communication doesn’t always mean a narrative – spoken or written words. Communication refers to all the ways you present information to your audience.
During an afternoon set-up for an event, I reviewed a seating chart prepared for volunteers to help host the evening. Information was organized by the table number. This made sense for staff, but not for the volunteer hosts.
The hosts would’ve struggled to review the list to find an attendee seated at Reach Partners table 61. A review of names associated with tables 1 to 61 would have taken time, and repeating this action could have negatively impacted the attendee experience.
Organizing the list alphabetically by attendee made more sense for the hosts and created a better experience for the audience. It also was an easy fix: manipulating the data in Excel, followed by the sort function, created the same list in alphabetic order by attendee.
At another event the client decided to print name badges from the invitation list instead of the RSVP list. While this was one way to ensure attendees had a name tag, the optics weren’t great. Hundreds of name badges remained on the registration table throughout the event. The message? That people were missing or forgot to come or decided to not attend last minute.
This wasn’t the information attendees needed at registration.
Think about the message you want to send and then follow through with empathy and take the time to consider what your audience needs to know. Communication matters.
Your comment will be posted after it is approved.
Leave a Reply.
Your partners in leadership.