Begin with the end in mind.

How often do we sit in front of our computers, struggling with how to communicate something?  We might find ourselves meandering, with lots of information and no clear point or message.  Or, we might sit looking at a blank screen, totally stuck.

Whether you are putting together a presentation, e-mail, talking points, article, blog post, performance review or any other communication, you will be able to formulate your message more crisply and easily if you begin with the end in mind.

What do we mean by that?

First, think about the ultimate purpose of the communication.  What are you trying to accomplish? Write it down.  Then, consider the impact you want to have – what do you want the recipient(s) to think and feel as a result of your communication? Be specific. 

Are you trying to inform? Persuade? Inspire confidence? Generate dialogue? Move to a decision? Catalyze a wake-up call? Depending on your desired outcome and audience impact, the communication will be fashioned differently – in terms of tone, content and language.  There is a real art to shaping your message.  Doing it well requires careful thought and intentionality. 

When we get clear on the answers to these fundamental questions, it allows us to approach our communication with greater focus.  It also provides a strategic lens through which we can decide which pieces of information are essential, and which ones are extraneous.  Once we know what we really want to convey, we can keep our eyes on the prize as we write.

The next time you sit down to craft a communication, ask yourself, “am I clear on my end game?”