In any communication, there is a risk of misinterpretation of the message between sender and receiver.
When we plan our communications, we intend to send message “X.” A recipient receives and translates our message with his or her own lens, history and perspective. The result may be that “Y” is what’s heard.
There is a reason for the expression “an image is worth 1,000 words.” If we want our message sent and received as we intend, images can make all the difference.
We’ve all seen them – those powerpoint presentations or infographics that make a message stick. Images that lessen the need to interpret what is being said, and create a mental image consistent with the sender’s intent.
For better or worse, leaders spend a lot of their time communicating – both sending and receiving. If that communication is limited to words, there is a risk of misinterpretation on both directions. Yet, the use of visual elements can accelerate alignment.
We’ve all done it – seen amazing powerpoint presentations or other images that we think “wow…I couldn’t do that.” Of course you can. We all can.
Following these steps, we can increase the “stickiness” of our messages through imagery.
The communications challenge
On average, 204 billion emails, 500 million tweets and 55 million Facebook updates are sent every day.
Our world has become centered around immediate communication and response. Often in 140 characters or less.
With 2.9 devices per person*, we have more ways to communicate than we do people to communicate with. Somehow, with all this technology, we’re communicating more and saying less.
The shift in communications style with the introduction of email meant we could be more casual. Less thoughtful. Hey, it’s email. No worries about the time it takes to type a message out, the cost of postage, or the delay in delivery.
Communications quickly became instantaneous within companies or between friends and family.
The risk with instantaneous communication
With social media, communications are now immediate around the globe. Not only can we share something quickly, it can go viral overnight. Any content.
With such speed of communicating, we expect our needs will be addressed as rapidly. Have a complaint? Post it on Twitter and time the response. It’s quite a change from comment cards or phone calls to a service line.
Not only do we expect, and often receive immediate consideration, the world is watching.
As leaders, our words hold power.
What we say and how we say it, whether in tone and inflection or body language, are all interpreted by our audience based on their individual lenses. Regardless of our intent, it is that individual perception that most influences reality.
Every communication has a purpose, from informing to influencing. It could be setting objectives for the year, rallying the troops to meet a key deadline, or announcing organizational change.