How to Prepare the Message You Want to Communicate Around Change

Thursday, October 20th, 2011


(Note: This is a companion post to What’s Your Communication Plan About the Change Initiative? I discuss the range of things that need to be covered as well as the need to make certain that communication is a conversation and not a presentation.)

How to Prepare the Message You Want to Communicate Around Change

So, how do you prepare the message? Think of it in two distinct parts: Why and How.

The Why message needs to address the reasons why a change is needed. The question “Why?” does not talk about a plan for addressing the challenge or opportunity facing you. All this stage covers is the reasons why something must be done now!

Making sure people see and feel why a change is needed today is perhaps the most important – and the most neglected stage in the life of a change. (See Making a Compelling Case for Change in my free e-book, Introduction to Change without Migraines for what to cover when addressing Why.)

Since some projects last a long time, you may find that you need to remind people why this change is still critically important. And whenever new people join the team, they need to see Why before How.

The How message is what we usually think of when we talk about communicating change. This step can only come after the Why message has been delivered and believed. The How message comes directly out of Project Planning 101: What’s our vision (or goals), objectives, benchmarks, timelines, and so forth. It needs to include lots of opportunities for people to get questions answered. Just delivering the message isn’t enough. When we are faced with the prospect of massive change, our ability to take in information decreases. We may not want to be dense or resistant, but we simply can’t attend to fact and figures when we are worried about our future.

In a future post, I will cover how to communicate after the initial Why and How  messages have been delivered and understood.

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