Whenever I have to write an email or an article, customize a course or workshop, I ask myself four questions; WHY, WHO, WHAT and HOW.
WHY – What is the purpose of this communication
WHO – Who are the audience who are going to receive it/ read or listen to this?
WHAT – The content I need to include
HOW – The way it is to be delivered.
The answer to these questions helps me to deliver an effective message, workshop or email as the case may be.
The first two questions are the most important. The answer to these two helps me to decide the third and the fourth. Why and Who determines what I am going to say and how I am going to say it.
Why refers to clarity of purpose. What do I want to achieve with this message? Is there any action I want the receiver to take? Is this clearly expressed in my communication? If it is a workshop I have planned, then I ask myself , “ What is the need I am expected to fulfil?” That becomes the main objective of the workshop.
The next important question is the audience/ What is their level in terms of language and experience? Is the audience to the workshop experienced or freshers out of college? What is the perceived need of the audience? What are they likely to expect from this workshop? What do they know?
The course/ message (WHAT) is designed so that the gap between the purpose why and the need of WHO is met. Again, the method of delivering the message is determined by the receiver of the message.
Recently, I attended a webinar where the trainer was excellent. The examples were taken from real life incidents from the training she was giving to employees of a large organization. However, the audience of this webinar were students at a Business School. Almost all of them had no work experience. Their professor who had arranged the webinar had never worked in corporate environment. I felt that the audience did not identify with what she spoke. They also could not envisage a situation like the one the trainer spoke of.
This example just illustrates how important it is to understand the audience before you design a workshop.
This is even more important in written communication.
Before you write an email ask yourself What is it that I want this email to achieve( WHY).
Your next question should be WHO is this email addressed to? Is he someone who knows the subject? How busy is he likely to be? How well do I know him?
Then you decide on WHAT to say and HOW best to state your purpose so that it is achieved.
You will never go wrong if you are able to follow this guideline.