At the risk of oversimplification, there are two macro “messaging problems” that come up a lot in our work.
Problem #1: the speaker knows what they want to achieve, has a general goal in mind, but has not put enough thought into the details of the message and how they will achieve the goal. They have a goal, but no plan or detail.
Problem #2: the speaker gets completely mired in the details, and has no idea what the big picture is and what they are trying to actually achieve. They have plenty of plans or details, but no goal.
Both problems are significant.
When we have a goal with no plan, it is hard to get people to follow us for very long. They might like the destination that is being described. But in the absence of any specifics, that excitement will wane pretty quickly. What are the details here? What are the next steps? A goal, especially a compelling or ambitious one, can get the blood pumping for a while. But eventually that goal needs texture. It needs a “calorie count.” It needs specifics.
And when we have plans but no goals, it is hard for people to see the big picture. It is hard for people to understand what the point of all the activity is. Where is this all headed? What is the point of all this? Plans and details are valuable, but in the absence of an understood purpose or destination, most people will eventually shrug their shoulders (or worse) and question the point.
Don’t let either of these problems happen to you. When you are getting ready to communicate in the workplace – either to pitch an idea, or build consensus among your team, or sell something – make sure that your approach includes healthy rations of both goal and plan.
Either without the other will lead to an unsatisfying outcome.
Good luck and have a great day.
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