Framing Information For The Audience
Whether it’s in virtual meetings or written communication, it’s critical to consider your audience when conveying information. Not adding enough context means your audience might get lost and miss your message. On the other hand, adding too much unnecessary context wastes valuable time. It’s hard to determine precisely the right amount of information to share, but hopefully, these tips will help. I’ll start by sharing a general template before going into some more details about the trickier sections, and giving a few examples at varying levels of scope.
Context — What information does a typical person in this audience need to understand what you’re about to say?
What Happened — in short, why are you saying this? What’s your point?
Why It’s Important/Implications— Why should the audience care about what you just announced? What implications of this change apply to your audience?
Follow-Ups and Action Items — What should they do in response?
- Consider your audience’s existing context — what do they know already, or what would you expect them to know? Someone that has less industry experience may need more context on the architectural design patterns compared to an industry veteran. Similarly, someone that’s worked in on the subject may only need a brief high-level reminder or some information on the differences from their existing experiences.
- Consider your audience’s interests — Is this typically a person that likes to know more about methodology in addition to results? Are they typically high-level leaders that are more interested in the impact on the organization or the budget rather than method?
- How will these changes impact the other person’s work? — What do they do in their day-to-day that may be affected by your statement?
- What specific follow up actions can they take to help you? — If they were to take one action to help you, what should they do?
Consider a fictitious situation where you describe the release of a new sticker pack in a messaging app:
We found through our last survey that our users desired greater expressiveness especially around this critical moment in history, and as you know we’ve been looking for creative partners to expand the reach of their brand. We’re happy to announce today that we’re launching a set of stickers from [A Great Company]! You’ll likely see more of these in your day to day conversations. This is also the first sticker pack to use our new StickersV7 architecture, so you might see some bugs. Please test these new stickers with your friends and report any bugs you find!
Of course, within smaller informal or tight-knit groups, this isn’t necessary, but thinking with your audience in mind helps respect their time. At first glance, it seems like common sense, but to truly understand your audience, it requires a certain level of empathy and understanding that’s not as common. After all, every person’s communication preferences are different, some may prefer more hands-on detail, others prefer just the high-level summary. Striking the perfect balance can be quite a challenge.
Try applying this method in your next meeting or message and see how your team responds!