If you’ve been reading our posts for any length of time, you’ll know one of our mantras: communication is vital.
You need to clearly communicate to make progress on any type of project. This is true whether you’re getting married, going on a family reunion trip, managing a public health crisis or volunteering on a fundraising committee.
Now, communication is something we do everyday. But doing it well is more complex than sending an email or having a brief conversation. Because here’s the super-secret deal: communication is a two-way process. Communication is as much about your audience – the people you want to do something or know something – as it is about your message.
This is why we advocate thinking through the needs of everyone involved and building a communication plan.
When you build a communication plan, you improve everyone’s experience – especially your own. Here’s why: when you have a communication plan, you make sure that you and everyone around you has the same information and understands it. When you have a plan, you’ve taken the time to anticipate and meet expectations of the team and those participating.
A plan also suggests that you’ve taken time to define what the important messages are. You’ve discerned what you want people to do (register for your conference? RSVP for your gathering? Call?) and what information they need to take that action.
And, here’s the beauty of that plan. You can easily share it with anybody who is working on the project so that everyone is literally on the same page. You can write down everything you want to communicate and share it in a way that all necessary details are included. If you’ve ever sent out an email for an event and forgot to include the date or the location, you know how important this is.
We truly believe that if you don’t make a plan, you’ll always be reacting.
Making a communication plan isn’t hard. But, here are a few things you should include:
1. Purpose. Define why you’re holding an event or pursuing a project. Include goals. It’s okay if you don’t have all the details yet. Need a refresher? Check out this blog post on how to define purpose.
2. Identify the potential audiences who may need to be communicated with. Not every group needs the same message at the same time. Stakeholders may need different knowledge than event attendees. Organize groups by what they need to know.
3. Establish details. Write down dates, times, emails, hashtags, websites, speaker names. Keep these details in one location so everyone who needs access communicates the same information.
4. Identify tools for communication. You have many tools at your fingertips for communicating information. Email? Social media? News release? Word-of-mouth? Think about the best way to reach your audience.
5. Establish a calendar. Outline what messages are needed and when. Include who needs to receive the information and how they’re going to get it. This is your map for making sure the communication happens.
Communicating well takes time and effort, but it’s well-worth the time and effort. For every project, create a communication plan and you’ll thank yourself.
BONUS: Download this sample of a communication plan.