Co mmu n i c at i o n s Top Tips for Communicators This guide has been produced to help Business Change write and deliver better communications to stakeholders
What’s in this guide• Why we should communicate in a consistent way• Things to think about before you start• How to write in our tone of voice• Some of the key messages to get across• What not to say• Your role as an ambassador for Business Change• Getting support for your message• Tips and techniques for presentations / communication sessions
Think about your audience• Who are they? (keep a Key Stakeholder of the project in mind while you’re writing) – How old are they? – What job do they do? – Are they married with kids? – What newspaper do they read? – What’s their background? – What’s their favourite music or TV programme? – All these things can help when tailoring a communication and gaining buy in from your stakeholders
Think about your audience• What do they want? – Ask yourself what do they already know? – What do they want to know? – What will they understand? – How much time do they have to read what you’re writing?• What do you want? – Why are you communicating? – What do you want to achieve from the communication? – What do you want people to think, feel and / or do as a result of your communication?
Rule 1: Say the important stuff first• Decide who your audience are• Decide what they need to know• Tell them straight away in a useful, meaningful heading and brief• Structure your message in levels of decreasing importance• Use sub headings where appropriate• This usually means going into more detail further down the page
Rule 2: there are slightly different waysto write for different channels• Online (email / Web / PowerPoint) – Remember….. • Your readers sit forward, not back • They’re task focussed, not looking for a good read • They have a short attention span • They’re unlikely to read to the end • They could ‘land’ anywhere in your content (this is more applicable to Web content)
Rule 2: there are slightly different waysto write for different channels• PowerPoint (Group Presentations) – Remember….. • Put as little on a slide as you can manage (keep the text VERY simple). Full sentences are NOT bullet points. • Use a simple background, if light use dark text if dark use light text. • You should not be reading off the slides word for word they should be a prompt to you and add the commentary
Rule 2: there are slightly different waysto write for different channels• Magazines and editorial articles – Remember • Avoid business speak • Give people “a good read” • Write about “us” and “we” rather than “you” and “the company” • Be positive but be honest • Don’t waffle to fill a layout • Use a plain, down to earth style • Use vibrant, bright language • Avoid acronyms and jargon
Rule 2: there are slightly different waysto write for different channels• Emails – Remember • Always ensure you have a subject statement and that it is that is meaningful • Use “Hi” or “Hello” rather than “Dear” • Use an easy chatty style (as if you were talking) • Sign off using “Thanks, Many thanks, regards or all the best” rather than the more formal “yours sincerely or faithfully” • Make sure your full name, job role and contact details are on the message so people can contact you easily if they need to. Create a Outlook signature so the signature is always consistent. • Always use your email Signature regardless of if it is a new, reply or forwarded email.
Rule 3: Use Plain English• Be direct and to the point• Avoid jargon and unusual words and avoid acronyms• If using acronyms on the initial mention give the full wording and bracket the acronym i.e. Business As Usual (BAU)• Avoid long, complicated sentences• Think about your audience and what they’re likely to understand
Rule 3: Use plain English• The easiest way to explain our tone of voice is to use some examples…….. Avoid the use of: Try the below Instead Staff People (it’s what we are after all) Inform Tell (inform isn’t very informal) Utilise Use (why have three syllables when one will do Sufficient Enough Additional Extra (less is more) Require Need (it’s less stiff) Verify Check (it’s what we mean really)
Rule 4: be ‘user friendly’• Don’t use over complicated words or jargon• Always check if there’s a simpler way of saying something• Try not to write in several sentences what you can write in one• Use words like ‘our’ and ‘we’ or people’s names, to include the reader in what you’re saying• Try to make it interesting
Rule 5: Review• Always read what you have written before sending• If in doubt ask a colleague to review• Try reading it out allowed• Put yourself in the stakeholders shoes• pre-empt questions - Ask yourself what questions might the stakeholder have once reviewing the document – If so try including the answers in the communication
What to avoid• Don’t speculate - stick to the facts• Don’t make promises you or Business Change can’t keep!• Don’t present Business Change as the answer to all that ails the business / your audience• Don’t ‘sugar coat’ information - the organisation needs to prepare for change
Being an ambassador• You should……. – Be positive! – Be honest, if you don’t know – say so! – Endeavour to answer in 24 hours – Be responsible and responsive – Be on time for appointments, meetings etc – Capture names, dates, numbers, next steps – Avoid using jargon - explain it if you have to use it – Encourage open discussion and capture concerns – Be conscious of potential resistance. Some people might not want to hear the message you’re giving
Getting support for your message• Some of the following might help….. – Tell the person you have their manager’s support to participate – With their support we can ensure this is a success. – By getting involved in this stage of the analysis, you will be aware of some of the changes and can help educate your people at your site.
Tops tips for presentations /Communication sessions…….
Top tips for face to face• Getting started• When you’re introducing something that’s new to the audience, it might be difficult to get the conversation going. Break the ice by asking: – What is your understanding of the Project? – What benefits do you expect from the implementation of the project? – What do you consider to be the biggest challenges facing your area as a result of the project?
Top tips for face to faceDuring a Presentation• If you feel like you’re losing your audience, just take a break in your presentation. Do a quick recap of your information and ask your audience if they are following the content by asking some of your opening questions again (previous slide).• If you’re having difficulty getting a Q&A session started, here are some questions you could pose to your audience to encourage discussion: – How might the project benefit your area? – What are your concerns about the project? – What do you see as your role in making the project a success?
Top tips for face to faceWrapping up• Always be sure to review your presentation agenda to ensure the audience understands what you covered• Make reference to any items on the flip charts or parked issues and have a plan to address them (within 24 hours if possible)• Clearly identify next steps for the audience – outline what they will be expected to do.