By The ALLC Core Team
“THE PLANS OF THE DILIGENT LEAD SURELY TO ABUNDANCE, BUT EVERYONE WHO IS HASTY COMES ONLY TO POVERTY.” PROVERBS 21:5
Failing to plan is actually a plan to fail. This is true with almost everything in life – from project planning to vacation planning. One of the biggest causes of failure in marriages, relationships, organizations, and ministry teams is poor communication. Communicating well generally requires some preparation and forethought. That’s another way of saying “planning”! So how does a person plan out their communications? Well, let’s take a look at four basic steps you can take to be proactive in communicating well.
1. DEFINE YOUR OBJECTIVES
What are you trying to achieve? Why is this important? It’s always important that both you and the people you’re communicating with understand the big picture of what you’re doing and why. This is called “starting with the end in mind”. Identify the fundamental end outcomes or objectives that will then help you focus on the details of WHAT needs to get done, by WHOM, WHEN, and WHY. Those are the things that need to get continuously communicated!
2. UNDERSTAND YOUR AUDIENCE
What individuals and groups of people need to get involved in order for your ministry work to be successful? Why are each of those groups of people important to the success of your work? What critical part do they play? What kind of understanding, commitment, and action do you need from them and what level are they already at? What kind of communication do they need from you and how often? What are the best ways of communicating with them? These are some of the components of an Audience Analysis. For more help with conducting an audience analysis, see: Knowing Your Audience
3. PLAN MESSAGES AND CHANNELS
What types of messages or information do you need to communicate to each of your audience groups? What does each of your key audience groups need to know NOW? Note: the informational needs of your audiences change constantly. Thus, you must constantly re-assess your communication plan to include the most relevant communication messages necessary at any given time. How often do you need to communicate each message? Generally, communicating a message only once will not be enough. Consider what communications methods/channels are most appropriate for each message, audience, and situation. For example, which messages are urgent or important enough to warrant calling people, and for which messages would a meeting, email, text message or newsletter be more appropriate?
4. EVALUATE AND MONITOR
How will you follow-up to find out what your audience groups understood, what questions they have, what concerns they have, and what suggestions they have? How will you get feedback about the quality, clarity, frequency, and appropriateness of your communications? Depending on the audience group, you may be able to ask them in person, ask during a group meeting, ask in an email, or ask in a survey. Get creative in evaluating your communications, and never stop asking for input. It’s better to err on the side of communicating and evaluating too much compared to too little. What’s most important, though, is how you utilize people’s feedback in order to improve your future communications.
Here’s a visual of a template you could consider using as you put your communication plan together:
- Where are you in the communication planning process?
- What is your next step?
- How and when will you evaluate and monitor your ongoing communication needs?
* Find more ALLC resources about communication planning at: http://allc.asia/skills/communication-planning/