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Communications: 3 Ways to Avoid Epic Fails

Written on:January 15, 2013
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There are times when, as leaders, we believe we have done everything reasonably within our power to make sure that others know what is going on.  And yet, we routinely experience what might easily be called “epic fails”.

Look at this short video from the Today Show.


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The participants all shared full and proper communications. What happened?

Simple confusion.

As we articulate values, goals, objectives, decisions, strategies, plans, recognition, and other important person to person communications we must stress test what we are communicating to make sure we do not experience an epic fail.

Try these three ways to stay clear of any epic communication fails.

1. Keep the message simple and to the point.
Don’t ramble. Don’t over explain. Use simple, yet meaningful data, then immediately connect to emotion. As emotive beings, we humans more easily remember things that we connect to with our emotions, with our heart, and not through a complex data construct – no matter how logical the data.

2. Use validation.
Ask questions of your audience to test if the message was received as intended. Ask your audience to ask questions, to confirm if the message and its broader context are known and understood. If the audience does not or cannot ask questions, then use other facilitation techniques to get feedback.

3. Follow up.
This is a step that is often overlooked. In fact, this is one of the most powerful things you can do to avoid those epic fails. Follow ups include both item #1 and #2. During your follow-up repeat the message, in an even simpler way than when originally addressed. And, spend more time on validation. Ask questions, share examples and ask for questions. Don’t move forward without validation.

4. Bonus: Use stories and examples.
During each of the above three steps, strengthen the message and the validation with the use of a story or and example. Stories might be in the form of a short narrative, a graphic or image, a video, or a in person demonstration. The short embedded video with this post is an example of a story or compelling visual.

Use these simple techniques to drive understanding of your message.

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