The 8 Whats of Communciation

Feb 21, 2013 2 Comments by

Change Agents are often asked to create and coordinate the delivery of critical messages about an upcoming change.


Over the years, I’ve seen some phenomenal communicators deliver powerful change messages using the written word, speeches, websites, multi-media presentations and all sorts of other tools.


Common Denominators for Success: One thing each of these success stories had in common was that neither the medium nor the messenger overshadowed the content.  Stakeholders love straight talk and they love clarity – especially when the message needs to convey less-then-great news. 


A Great Eight: I’ve noticed that great communicators provide clear answers to each of eight critical questions. The answers to these eight questions can help to focus your core message, enable the logistics of communication delivery and help people respond effectively to what they hear. If you nail all eight answers, the chances of your communication having the desired impact will go up… Miss one or more and you may be shooting your message out with a built-in weakness. So whether you plan to build a website, create a film, give a speech, write an article or develop a colorful poster to hang in the lobby announcing your big change, here are eight “what” questions you can ask to shore up your communication diligence:


Simple Isn’t Always Simple: These 8 questions look pretty simple on the surface. The answers to these 8 questions can sometimes be quite obvious. Be careful though! Sometimes the answers can become fairly complex.

…and Easy Isn’t Always Right! That’s why it’s critical for Change Agents to develop a habit of asking them routinely, even in the case where easy answers might be assumed. I’ll offer more insight into each of the 8 questions over the next few posts. Until then, keep driving change!


Question for Chatter:

  • What can go wrong when Change Agents “shoot from the hip” instead of carefully planning for effective communication?

Change Agent Skills, Change Communication, Change Execution, Change Leadership, Stakeholder Readiness, Team Dynamics

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I help people and teams succeed with big changes... never a dull moment!

2 Responses to “The 8 Whats of Communciation”

  1. Communicate in Context | theBigRocks of Change says:

    […] a recent article, I suggested that Change Agents need to answer eight critical questions when they plan for communication. Today I’ll dig a bit deeper into the first of those 8 questions: “What’s the context for […]

  2. Frode H says:

    Hi Steve.
    Thanks for providing this. Experience prove that being prepared is a good thing. :) This is also interesting for me while I write my blog content. Maybe I should try to carve out some stories based on this. :) Have a great day.

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