Now that Labor Day is behind us, we're all swept up in the rush of the must-get-everything-done-by-year-end syndrome.

A key part of your success is getting your message across to colleagues, customers, and other stakeholders. To do so, it may seem that you have to communicate a lot of stuff very often.

But when it comes to effective communication, more is not more. That's a common misconception that has been carried around for years. Here are some others:

  • Facts have power. The right information, articulated in the correct way, will get people to act.
  • Everyone wants all the details. You can't leave anything out.
  • There's no such thing as communicating too frequently. If people don't get it the first time, do it again.
  • People should pay attention because it's good for them. They should read because it makes them smarter. They should take the time to learn about a certain issue because it's important.

Wrong, wrong, wrong, and wrong again. Go out and talk to any member of your audience, and you'll find that these assumptions (if they were ever true) just don't work any more.

By contrast, your stakeholders say:

  • "Facts are fine, but I don't take them at face value. Tell me what something means to me."
  • "I don't have time for a lot of detail--unless I really care about the topic. Then I want access to all the information."
  • "It seems like I am constantly bombarded with tons of stuff on the same topic. Tell me about it when it really matters and when I need to do something about it."
  • "I'm smart enough to make my own decisions about what matters to me. I'm not going to waste my time because some authority figure tells me I should."

What do the stakeholders' statements mean? Just this: Much of communication is based on the false assumption that information is power. But your audience members know that information is plentiful and cheap. The real power comes when you provide context and meaning.

Don't churn out more and more and more information. Instead, pare communication down to its essence. Now more than ever: Less is more.

Published on: Sep 8, 2015