Is the gap between the way your technical teams communicate so vastly different from what your leadership needs to hear that you often rewrite their papers yourself – or edit them so much you may as well have?
This is because you naturally understand that you must not sacrifice technical accuracy and incur the wrath of your team (who will accuse you of ‘dumbing down' their work), but that you also must provide a clear sense of perspective and clarity about the context of the work for those who need to make the decisions.
While it is valid to think that in sitting between these two worlds you are well placed to translate for them, there are some practical things you can do to help your technical team communicate to non-technical audiences.
Here are three to get you started:
Appreciate that “writing” is not the same thing as “communicating” to an audience
Writing is a tool both for the writer to complete their own problem solving and sense-making as well as a tool for conveying ideas to another person.
It is vital that a writer learns to discern when they are communicating to themselves and when they are communicating for another person.
Understand what their audience really needs from them
Have a clear picture of the people they are communicating to: their interest (or lack of) in the writer's pet topic, existing biases, and purpose for wanting to hear from the writer in this particular instance.
Flip their early drafts on their head
When pouring out the first draft or two, writers so often describe their own problem solving journey: “we did this, found this and then did this and … and … etc.”
However, once a writer is more familiar with not just the journey itself, but what this journey told us, they can flip early drafts upside down and communicate the conclusion up front to address our audience's key concern.
Writers are ready to flip their writing to focus on their audience only when they can explain their key points to another person while ‘standing on our head' – not that I suggest you try it: explaining the main points to someone who is not a technical expert in less than a minute will do.
If you would like some more ideas that will help your technical team turn their communication on its head, take a look at the Clarity First Program.
We teach individuals and groups how to communicate so that their good ideas get the traction they deserve.
Keywords: #design your strategy #develop your storyline