As a communicator, you can often feel like an overworked diner cook.
A messaging request comes in, you scramble something together, and away it goes. Order up.
How do you get beyond “order taker” status? How can you become an irreplaceable, revered advisor, rather than an interchangeable information conveyor belt?
Proving the worth of your work with quantitative data is a great start. However, you shouldn’t neglect the more qualitative aspects of your output. Take, for instance, the power of delighting an audience.
Before rolling your eyes and griping about how boring your job is, let’s concede that, indeed, hardly anyone cares that open enrollment ends Thursday. The “important security alert” that IT is nagging you to send is also unsexy, but even within the dullest message lies an opportunity to create small moments of delight—joy, even—for your colleagues.
Try these three approaches:
1. Create anticipation of entertainment.
If you’re saddled with a stinker of a message to blast out, why not add a bit of spice to make it more palatable?
The more you inject bits of flavor, flair and fun into your communications, the more your colleagues will anticipate your messages. Not every joke will land, but why not try wordplay, goofy alliteration or even a knock-knock joke? Be interesting. Be a bit unpredictable, perhaps. Be anything but boring. Use your messaging to entertain as well as inform.
Small slices of entertainment can make someone’s day, and a more engaging approach can solidify your position in the company, too.
2. Create opportunities for genuine connection.
We all crave connections. Part of your job as a communicator is to help create those connections—tiny though they may be.
This can be simply asking employees for feedback, ideas or insights, sharing your editorial calendar with a different department, or perhaps just cruising around cubicles to see what colleagues are working on. Create connections with and among co-workers, and encourage execs to connect in the workplace, too.
If your company approaches recognition in an ad hoc, scattershot manner, formalize the process. Aside from being one of the top employee perks, recognition scratches an innate itch we all have. Make it as easy as possible for leaders to recognize employees, and provide forums where employees can quickly thank, praise or congratulate colleagues.
However you go about it, use your role to help establish emotional connections among your colleagues. People who feel connected at work tend to be happier, more productive and more likely to stick around. Facilitating genuine connections and interactions feels pretty good for the facilitator, too.
3. Create clarity and understanding for what’s happening.
No one likes being kept in the dark. As much as you’re able, use your perch to present a clear picture of what’s happening in your organization.
Shed light on project updates, share quick stories about some uplifting act of kindness, or follow up on the results of an initiative from last year. Make employees feel that they’re getting a peek behind the corporate curtain.
Being in the know is reassuring—even if the news isn’t 100% dandy. Conversely, cryptic silence breeds anxiety, doom and gloom.
It takes extra work (and possibly extra permissions) to keep colleagues abreast of where the company’s heading and how the business is doing, but providing clarity and context for what’s happening is an easy way to soothe your co-workers. Sometimes, “delighting your audience” is as simple as respecting them enough to tell them the truth.