Communication is hard

If I had a penny for every time that something I was trying to say did not land with my intended audience, I'd be a rich man.

If I could package a repeatable method of landing my messages right, every time, without fail, arguably I'd be richer yet.

Instead, here is a list of things that I have learned. Note that I am very much still learning.

1) Know why you want to say something.
2) Know who you want to say it to, and know why you want to say it to them.
3) Identify your key message.
4) List possible misinterpretations of what you are saying and edit your message to guard against them.
5) Choose your medium carefully based on what your message needs to achieve.
6) If it involves bad news, or has emotional import, deliver it personally in a conversation, face to face.
7) If it could give rise to lots of questions, be prepared to at least discuss by phone.
8) If it requires action, be very clear in setting the expectation that action is required, ideally by when, and make if clear what the action is at the beginning of the message.
9) If it requires no action, it is again worth making this explicit at the beginning of the message.
10) Remember that emails are read in the mood of the person reading them, not the person writing them.
11) Shape delivery of the message to fit what you know of the recipients.
12) Seek to pare written communications down to the smallest possible amount of text necessary to get your key message across.

If this sounds like a lot of work, it is. If you don't do the work though, the people you are trying to communicate with will have to pick up the slack. And this may make them less receptive to your message.

Can you afford that?