How Good Communication Inspires People to Change

Change communications is a relatively new communications specialty, focused on shifting people’s behavior (usually in the workplace) rather than simply raising awareness about a new product or marketing campaign.

So for anyone that needs to develop content that inspires change, I made a checklist for creating resources aimed at helping people learn new ways of working.

It focuses on three crucial success benchmarks: content, design and functionality.

Content

1. Keep it conversational

The number one rule of any content intended to inspire change — written, audio, video or in-person — is that it needs to be instantly relatable.

This means using plain and simple language instead of technical jargon, real-life stories or examples instead of Powerpoint presentations and down-to-earth videos of people explaining how something works without reading from a script!

2. Describe how change makes the workday better

If your content is only relevant for a select group of employees, then be sure to call this out in the beginning.

Once you have their attention, describe the new way of working and when they need to implement it during their workday. The best way for people to adopt new habits is to incorporate them into a workflow, process or daily routine that they’re already following each day.

Then it’s time to highlight the WIIFM or What’s In It For Me proposition to motivate people into action. This is simply explaining how a new way of working will make someone’s job better— by saving time, increasing access to knowledge or streamlining approval processes, to name a few!

3. Provide clear and detailed calls to action

Let people know what follow-up actions they need to take, in chronological order, using step-by-step instructions.

You can wrap up by reminding people of how their personal actions will help internal teams and the wider organization achieve success.

Design

1. Create a style guide and use it consistently

Good design isn’t just about graphics — it can also refer to the way you organize your change communications content.

Create a content architecture and stick with it. People will get used to the style and know where on screen (or when in a video or audio recording) to look out for important information like: people affected by the change, what they need to do next and how to take action.

2. Make it visually appealing

Use images and videos when you can. Make sure your written content doesn’t contain long paragraphs — and bold (or highlight) important text or hyperlinks so people can quickly scan for crucial information.

Also don’t assume everyone has the same baseline knowledge — you may need to explain new ways of working with customer or employee journeys for teams not familiar with different job functions.

3. Test and validate

Once you’ve completed a single source of truth prototype or draft Q&A content, don’t be afraid to ask people for their feedback — and make updates based on their responses. This ensures you’re content actually addresses their frustrations — making it far more effective at shifting attitudes and habits.

After your launch, embed opportunities for ongoing feedback or peer support across all types of content — including in-person, online, audio, video, apps and even emails.

Usability

1. Provide the same content across different formats

Always consider the type of workplace environment people will be in when they read, watch, listen or interact with your content.

Some people might prefer podcasts they can listen to while doing other things, while others may have the chance to watch a video onscreen.

2. Make everything easily accessible

Map out the information architecture for online content — including Intranet pages, platforms and folders — to ensure it isn’t buried and people understand how to click through different pages.

Always consider accessibility by including options for language translation, audio and larger text sizes.

3. Get people to pay attention to updates

Change happens over time, so you need to find the most popular ways to provide ongoing updates about training, support groups and new information.

Find out what types of updates people pay attention to the most (like app notifications, emails, Slack posts or in-person announcements) and use these channels.

Rebecca is a change communications thought-leader and former Fulbright Scholar to Australia. She’s worked across digital, organizational and compliance transformation programs and advocates for integrating UX and human-centered design thinking into change communications strategies. At home this past year, she also learned how to make her favorite foods from scratch and logged more than 1,000 miles walking through Golden Gate Park in San Francisco.

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Rebecca Cressman

Rebecca Cressman

I help people and businesses transform how they work. Change communications consultant, former Fulbright Scholar to Australia and design-thinking advocate.