Tips for Communicating to Support Broader Engagement
This is the second in a three-part series on communicating in the “post-truth” era. Read the first part here.
What I love about this TED talk is when Celeste says: you don’t have to try and look interested, if you are interested.
You may or may not be surprised by how many organizations seek input from stakeholders, internal or external, and then are not all that interested in what they have to say. If you are going to go through the effort of hosting an engagement where you want to be influenced by others in your decision making… you’ve gotta listen!
That’s my No. 1 tip for effective communications to support engagement. Listen, for goodness sake. Communication is two-ways – so close your mouth at least half the time, and open your ears.
If people feel like they will be heard, they are more likely to engage.
Remember: “Leaders who don’t listen will eventually be surrounded by people who have nothing to say.” -Andy Stanley
Here are five steps to better communications in support of broader engagement.
- Communicate the opportunity to be involved and use simple, straightforward language. For example: “We are developing a strategic plan around how we can better support new moms and their babies.”
- Communicate how stakeholder input will be used in the decision-making process. For example: “We want to learn from new moms and their experiences in hospital, and in the early days and weeks post-delivery, so we can make sure we are providing the right supports at the right time.”
- Communicate why your organization cares that stakeholders are involved. For example: “We know that every new mom has a different experience with pregnancy and delivery, and we want to learn from as many different experiences as possible.”
- Thank stakeholders ahead of time, and recognize any sacrifice they have made to be involved. For example: “We appreciate your participation, particularly during what can be a very tiring time for new moms.”
- Follow up and tell them what you decided. For example: “We heard from 150 new moms, and based on what we learned, here are five program changes we are going to be making in the next three months.”
Generally, people engage when the communication is clear, when they are invested in the decision, and when they believe they will be listened to respectfully.