A Framework for Communicating Effectively in Uncertain Times

You have probably received far more emails, watched more videos, and engaged more posts on social media since the beginning of the shutdown in March.

Like you, I have seen many leaders and organizations rise to the challenge of communicating in uncertain times. Often, we can readily identify poor communication before effective.

Consider this — over the next few weeks, churches, non-profits, and other organizations will navigate the realities of re-opening at every level. Imagine if leaders crafted messages bridging the gap to the people they serve.

Your voice matters. Uncertain times call for clarity in the places we can offer it. The way you communicate in this season can build trust and credibility for the people you serve.

Today, I want to offer you a framework of effective communication in uncertain times:

Anticipate how people will receive the message.

You might have good news and bad news. Think through the decision or the news you will communicate. In the eyes of the people we serve, poor communication will often lack the ability to see the message.

Start with the critical influencers before going public.

Whether you work with staff or volunteers, certain people will receive more questions than others. The time you take to fill in the key influencers will become critical as they respond to your message. Also, engaging significant people will give you valuable feedback before sharing it publicly.

Acknowledge the feelings and uncertainty of the season.

I have had several friends joke with me how often they have heard “unprecedented times” since March. You have probably had multiple conversations with the people you serve to know their feelings. Effective communication bridges active listening. You have the opportunity to help people realize that you hear their voice.

Discuss the process and the behind-the-scenes.

You will have to communicate a decision or even plan. Help people see how you concluded. Think of who you involved in making a decision. Consider the other options on the table. Like a correct geometry proof, show people the work to fill in the blanks.

Help people understand what the message means to them.

You can communicate a message, but the majority of people will wonder what that means for them. Process through two-three questions people might ask. Again, your communication can build a bridge at this moment.

Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

I learned so much about communication from my boss Sam Huey. He modeled repetition. In some ways, we could finish his sentences. We don’t repeat because we are bored with the message. Never forget it takes approximately seven times for a communication set in according to Patrick Lencioni in The Motive. All leaders have the calling of becoming the Chief Repeating Officer.

What have you noticed about effective communication in uncertain times? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Photo by Thiago Barletta on Unsplash

Originally published at https://peterenglert.com on June 9, 2020.