How to communicate clearly
University teaches you to communicate the wrong way.
You are told that the best way to communicate new information is to:
- Recount all the context (introduction)
- Describe the analyses that you've done (methodology)
- Explain the findings (results)
- Highlight the implications of those findings (discussion).
This is a very bottom-up / process-oriented approach to communication. But it's the wrong way to communicate in a business context.
Because executives are busy, rarely care about the detail, and only care about the answer.
So start with the answer first.
When an executive asks them "what should we do?", they are expected to respond crisply with "you should do X".
And then they follow with a short summary of the 3 main arguments and the data that support them.
So it looks something like this:
- Start with the answer
- Describe argument 1 with supporting data
- Describe argument 2 with supporting data
- Describe argument 3 with supporting data
So how's that sound?
Clear. Authoritative. Persuasive.
The implication of top-down communication is that it forces you to have already synthesized and summarized the information into one simple recommendation and three supporting arguments.