Marshall McLuhan is famous for the saying “the medium is the message.” This is essentially the concept that the chosen method of conveying a message, in fact influences how that message is received. As an example, an artist, in choosing to either talk or write about their art, potentially influences how others then perceive it. Also on the topic of communication, Tony Robbins once said “to effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communications with others.” Finally, in considering effective communications techniques, Libby Larsen suggests; “The great myth of our times is that technology is communication.” So, what does each of these quotes have to do with communications from a business perspective? I believe that as entrepreneurs, it is imperative that we understand the Frame of Reference of our intended audience and are respectful of it at all times. Understanding F.O.R. ensures that:
- You choose appropriate communication mediums to convey your message.
- You have a clear understanding of your customer in order to address them in a manner that reflects their experiences with the world.
- You recognize that while technology is important, you also understand that it’s not the only way of communicating with your target audience.
What is F.O.R.? Specifically, frame of reference has to do with how each of us experiences the world around us and how that influences both our understanding and our perspective of it. Our frame of reference is influenced by any number of things including:
- Cultural background
- Access to education
- Religious affiliation and more….
All of these factors influence how we both give and receive information and therefore it’s imperative that you know and understand your target audience F.O.R. when considering how you will communicate with them. Whether you are talking to a customer in person, communicating through email, creating website content or even planning a presentation, understanding their F.O.R. will help you tailor your message appropriately. Therefore, conducting research into your ideal client/target audience and how to share information with them just makes good business sense.
In addition, you must consider these other contributing factors when you will be communicating with your customer in person. They are:
- Body language (open/closed)
- Personal space
- Eye contact
Each of these will also impact your chosen communication style. How? As just one example, consider this: In North America it is generally perceived that looking someone directly in the eye is a sign of telling the truth. In many other countries this action would be perceived as disrespectful and instead, downcast eyes are viewed as a sign of respect. Knowing your audience F.O.R. will prevent a potentially business ending gaffe.
Finally, when crafting your main message to customers you might also want to think about whether there are any language barriers and be wary of using too much industry specific jargon. It’s great that you are a subject matter expert but sometimes tossing around those big fancy words is neither necessary nor helpful to your target audience. Use these cautions even when considering how and when you use technology and when determining what methods of technology you might employ. Sometimes, technology can get in the way of effective communication because nuance, tone and facial/body language cues are all missing. To that end, consider whether your message makes more sense delivered in person vs. electronically.
Understanding the F.O.R. of your audience will contribute significantly to the successful communication of your message. It’s a lot to consider. Make sure your communications are carefully crafted, not from your perspective but from that of your audience. If you’ve done the research and taken the time to determine your ideal client, tailoring a message specifically to them shouldn’t then require a great deal of additional effort.
As Owner and Principal partner of “Writing Right For You” Sheralyn is a Communications Strategist – working together with entrepreneurs to maximize profit through effective use of the written word. Looking for web content that works, blog articles that engage or communications strategies that help you get noticed? Contact Sheralyn today. Sheralyn is also the mother of two children now entering the “terrible and terrific teens” and spends her free time volunteering for several non-profit organizations.
Sheralyn Roman B.A., B.Ed.
Writing Right For You
Communications Strategies that help you GET TO THE POINT!