Strategic Communication: The Better-Half of Strategic Thinking
Simple, and not complex is the goal when it comes to communication
As leaders and executives, we all know how critical strategic thinking is. It’s a skill-set that you see on most senior leadership job descriptions. But while most talk about strategic thinking, not many pay heed to its close partner - strategic communication.
I undertook executive coaching last year, wherein my coach kept on bringing up the point of how we as leaders think strategically, but often fail to communicate our thinking effectively, which ultimately creates execution gaps. This is where strategic communication comes in.
In simple terms, strategic communication allows you to demonstrate and communicate your strategic thinking to a wider audience—your manager, peers, teams and other stakeholders. So if you want to put strategic thinking to action, you need strategic communication.
The Toughest Part of Strategic Communication
TLDR: To keep it simple
Ironically, the toughest part of strategic communication is to keep it simple.
Consider the 2021 Bill and Melinda Gates letter which speaks about the very complex topic of coronavirus. But the letter is extremely simple, relatable and succinct. And that makes all the difference.
Keeping your communication simple, helps you to translate your strategic thoughts into quick actions. There is a lesser chance of things going wrong due to miscommunication. Remember the garbage in, garbage out rule? Well the same goes for communication - complex in, complex out!
Many times our unconscious bias makes us assume that people around us at work would know what we are talking about and will be aware of the assumptions we make in our communication. However, my experience says that it’s always good to foolproof your communication. Taking out an extra few minutes to just go through it once again to see if what you are saying can be misunderstood, really helps the communication to stand out.
The Three Simple Fundamentals of Strategic Communication
Simple Language, Thoughts and Structure
As leaders, sometimes we tend to use complex vocabulary or fancy jargon during communication. We forget that only few people can understand such complex language. Many times it’s also because we want to impress our readers with our “knowledge”.
The following tips can come in handy while drafting your next communication.
Use short sentences
Change paragraphs after every 2-3 sentences
Use easy vocabulary
Use limited jargon and explain them whenever needed
You can also try some online tools which can give you a readability score. If you are writing an email addressing the entire organization, ensure that your newest or the least experienced employee can understand it clearly!
Our mind tends to process relatable information faster than what seems like completely new information to it. So while explaining complex business situations, try to find relatable metaphors.
Choose examples that most of your audience can understand and relate to. You can’t avoid sharing complex information with your team, but if you can break it down into relatable pieces, then your audience will grasp it more effectively.
Share Stories, not just Facts
If you are using data, then try to support it with real stories. Stories and personal anecdotes have far greater impact than pure facts or data points.
Using real stories of real people to support your data and facts not only makes your argument more human, but also makes it more concrete. Always remember that stories reach hearts, and when you can get your audience emotionally invested in your communication, you are increasing the chance to get acceptance for your message.
My communication goal for 2022 - Keep it Simple!
In a virtual world where most of my communication is happening over Zoom, Meet, Email or Slack, I am attempting to simplify my communication further, so that I can help drive more effective execution at work.
How? I will,
write short and crisp slack messages and emails
explain, whenever I can’t do away with jargon
try to summarize after important meetings
not use any thesaurus in 2022 ;)
What are your communications goals for 2022? Share them with me!