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Effective Communication Series General Principles

First in a series on business communication

Today's business world incorporates several forms of communication, including but not limited to written, oral, presentations, social media and proposals. Effectiveness in communication is increased by following general guidelines, regardless of the format. This article identifies several communication guidelines that will help ensure a successful message delivery in almost any setting. 

Setting the Stage – Consider the Audience

Identify the recipients

No other guideline is more important than identifying and understanding the intended audience for a message.  Regardless of the content, one must account for the audience first. One would not prepare the same style of message for first graders as for a roomful of CEOs. Be conscious of the audience, and prepare the style of the message to fit the recipients.

Understand the purpose of the message

A message must be crafted with purpose in mind. Generally, most communication involves one or more of the following goals:

  • To give or receive information
  • To cause action
  • To change behavior
  • To ensure understanding
  • To persuade

Craft the message so it achieves the right outcomes.

Structure the Message – Contemplate necessary details for effective information sharing

When structuring your message, remember the C's.

Offer a complete, correct message

A message is complete when all the facts are given to the audience. Explain who, what, where, when, why and how. Identify deadlines and key details. Ensure the information is correct, and proofread the message before sending.

Provide concrete details

Use specifics whenever possible rather than vague, general terms. Inform the audience and give strength to the message by using defined facts and figures rather than unknown, vague terms. Also, use action verbs when possible and choose vivid words (but keep them appropriate for the audience and at the right comprehension level).

Consider the audience's perspective

Is background information needed to inform the audience? Does the message indicate the desired outcome?  Sensitivity in structuring message details helps build an effective story for message recipients.

Focus on clarity

Clarity is the quality of clear expression. Successful communication incorporates using words that make sense to the audience, and framing the message in a way that is easy to understand. Incorporate clarity by ensuring the communication is properly organized with a good flow from start to finish, by using words that make sense to the audience and by including examples. 

Be concise

State your message and be done, but don't sacrifice any of the other C's.  Review the message to eliminate wordy expression and avoid repetition.

Be courteous

The most valuable message is the one that is well received. Courteous communication increases the likelihood the recipients will invest the time to listen or read the message in its entirety. Ensure the message is tactful, sincere, and appropriate. Be polite but don't include an abundance of "please".


Excellent communication takes time to prepare, but the effort is a wise investment. Structuring a message targeted to a specific audience that utilizes sound principles increases the probability the message will be received.

 Bre Chapman is Executive Vice President, Chief Administrative Officer and Co-OMWI Director for FHLB Dallas.