What's the difference between strategic communication and noise?

Strategic communication occurs when a message is sent, understood and acted on as intended. Noise is simply that, information that is sent, misunderstood and/or ignored.

We all know what that looks like. That person, department or organization that constantly sends you irrelevant information that just fills up your inbox, or sets up that meeting that accomplishes nothing, or that town hall that was really a wasn't worth leaving your desk for.

And I've seen, first hand, the conversations that happen when an organization is getting ready for layoffs and reorganizations. What can we do without? What busy work is simply not linked to the bottom line? How can we do more with fewer people by working smarter, not harder?

Learning how and what to communicate makes a difference. Ask yourself the following questions:

1. What does success look like?
What is the purpose of this communication? Is it really necessary? What do you plan to accomplish? I bring it down to this: What do you want your audience to be aware of, understand, do and believe. If you can't answer these questions, you probably should not be communicating.

2. Why should your audience care?
All communication should be created with the audience's needs in mind. It's about what your audience wants and needs to know, not everything you have to tell them. By focusing on your audience, you are more likely to create communication and messaging that is meaningful and relevant.

3. Am I being respectful of people's time?
A colleague of mine used to say, "write the novel on your own time." All communication should cover relevant information as clearly and concisely as possible. It means that whether you are writing an email, business report, or running a meeting, people feel that you've given them all the information they need, as succinctly as possible.

How and what you communicate directly impacts your personal brand perception and reputation. Don't communicate without a strategy; communicate for better business outcomes and your audience will be sure to listen.

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