Tips for managers who speak to large audiences about change.
1. Know your audience
The members of your audience aren’t like you. They don’t think like you. They don’t act like you. They are a mix of people who have different roles. They like to know that you are aware of them and their role so amplify your message by speaking directly to segments of the audience that have the same role.
2. Explain why the change is necessary
The most powerful messages I’ve heard share the impact on the audience members if the change does not happen. Use the audience segments to focus your message and speak to the impact on each segment and the audience as a whole. This message is more important than the analysis of how you came to the conclusion that change was necessary.
3. Ask each audience segment for specific actions
You can do a lot better than sharing broad generalities about better communication. Everyone already knows that. Share specific actions you desire from each audience segment. That message will increase the signal to noise ratio of your message a hundred times over generalizations. For instance, sales, I need you to query our customers about X and email that information to your managers; project managers, I need you to start providing information about cost on your status reports; support, I need you to reduce the number of calls required to answer a client’s question.
4. Share the information you will use to make adjustments
Change doesn’t move in a straight line from reality to desire. That only happens in someone’s imagination. The change will require course corrections. Share the feedback information with the audience as a whole that you will use as a basis for making those corrections.
5. Ask for suggestions from audience members about other actions
Your view is from the top. Members of each segment will know about important actions that will help the change happen. Empower them to work with their management to make them happen.
Imagine you were in the audience: Wouldn’t you like someone to connect with you and your role. It takes some practice but you can connect with audience members, which is the prerequisite for creating the motivation for someone to want to follow your lead.
The spark for this post came from Steve Roesler’s post I’ll Change If You Tell Me What You Really Want. You can see my first thoughts on this topic in the comment section.