In business communications, the saying, “Timing is everything,” is true when it comes to capturing an audience’s attention.
We’re all busy people, with a lot on our minds most of the time. It’s really hard to stop and focus on things. Grabbing the attention of busy people requires that our communications rise above the noise and stand out.
And when I talk about noise, consider some numbers. Palo Alto, Calif.-based Radicati Group Inc. tracks electronic message trends, and reported that more than 108 billion business e-mails were sent and received each day in 2014. By 2018, Radicati forecasts that number will surpass 139 billion e-mails. Remember, there are about 7 billion human beings on this planet, and not all of them have e-mail. As it turns out, there were about 4.12 billion e-mail accounts in 2014, and that number is projected to grow at 6% a year, reaching 5.23 billion by 2018. Radicati calculated that business users sent and received an average of 121 e-mails a day last year. I’m not even counting phone calls, voice mails, texts and broadcast messages. Add it all together and is there any doubt that all of us are deluged with information?
If you want to deliver messages that matter, you need to find ways to cut through all that noise. Here are six ways to help your messages stand out and capture attention:
- Know your audience. To craft messages that will engage, inform and inspire, don’t start with the words you want to say. Instead, start by thinking about who is going to hear them. If you don’t truly know your audience, what’s important to them and what their expectations are, then your message is likely to miss the target – and it might instead turn people off.
- Ensure relevance. If your message is relevant to your audience, it stands a much better chance of getting heard. I generally don’t make time for interruptions that aren’t relevant to me, especially from people I don’t know. Whether they realize it or not, they’ve just helped me make an easy decision, which might be the easiest of my day: Click. Delete. No thanks.
- Time them thoughtfully. There are bad times to try to get somebody’s attention on a given day or week. Knowing your audience can help you find a time that isn’t in the middle of a busy period.
- Get to the point. How many times do you get a message that meanders its way through a series of statements until it dawns on you what the heck it’s about? If you’re like me, those long-winded or wordy messages put themselves high on the list of stuff to ignore.
A small aside: Historically, those kinds of messages seem to reach me most often in voice mail. Interestingly, Atlanta-based Coca-Cola Company decided in December 2014 to get rid of voice mail. Coca-Cola realized that the ubiquitousness of smartphones has essentially made voice mail obsolete. E-mail and texting are more productive forms of communication, Coca-Cola noted. Get to the point quickly, but just don’t send or answer texts or e-mails while you’re driving.
- Prepare your delivery. Take the time to polish your presentation. A smooth delivery, especially if it nvolves multiple media, is far more likely to resonate with an audience. We’ve all experienced, and some of us have delivered, presentations that were put together quickly and turned out sloppy. Think about how your audience is going to perceive it – and you.Preparation is worth the effort.
- Create an experience. Lots of people, probably most people, push information out to audiences. That’s not communication; that’s dissemination. Instead, think about creating an experience around your message, which includes feedback from your audience. Interactive messages are far more engaging than lectures. One of the best tools to reach a dispersed audience is an online event with live video and features that let the audience participate. That technology can work wonders for engaging, informing and inspiring audiences to take action.
What are some of the most memorable business messages you’ve experienced? I welcome your comments. To learn more about improving how you can communicate with and engage internal and external audiences, contact me at INXPO.COM