Snapshot Agenda: Strategic Communication with Dr. Bill Wallisch

The basic Strategic Communication agenda covers the four key components of the Strategic Communication model:

  1. Find and Support Your Main Point
  2. Analyze Your Audiences
  3. Write Clear Documents and E-mail
  4. Create and Present Powerful Visuals

Here’s a brief description of how Dr. Wallisch covers each of these four components:

Find and Support Your Main Point

The first step to clear communication is to find your main point.  An easy way to do this is to ask, “What is the purpose of my messageThe Main Point?”  For example, it might be any of – But not limited to – these five key business messages:

  • Recommendation?
  • Solution?
  • Request?
  • Summary?
  • Strategy? Or Tactic?

Strategic Communicators always begin with the most important point your readers or audiences need to know.  Bill will show you a good selection of sample main-points used in a variety of business documents, e-mails, and presentations.

Once you find your main point, you have yet another challenge:  Support your main point with just the right amount of data.  Too often messages are laden with large amounts of heavy data and detail that only lengthen and confuse the message.  You must make a very careful decision about how you will clearly support your main point.  This means going through all of the data with a keen eye so you can identify only critical pillars of support.  Here again, Bill will show you sample main-point messages that are well supported.

At the end of this section you will be asked to put together a main-point message, well supported by just the right amount of detail.  This exercise is known as “The Lightning Round.”  You and your classmates will be grouped together and challenged to create a business, main-point message that can be delivered in one minute!

Analyze Your Audiences

Though it’s critical to find your main point and support it with just the right amount of key data, your job as a strategic communicator is not yet over.  Your message must also be skillfully tailored to your audience.

Bill will discuss several techniques for audience analysis, including the importance of both knowing your audience and anticipating what their questions will be in regard to your message.  He will tell you that all audiences approach a message with a critical question:  “What’s in this for me?”  Failure to make that clear to an audience is to set your message up for . . . failure.

Write Clear Documents and E-mail

You will learn how to organize any written document.  You will also learn how to organize and write a highly effective e-mail by taking advantage of powerful subject lines that are matched with single-screen, carefully-crafted messages.  You want your e-mail to be the first one to catch the eye of a reader who has an electronic in-box brimming with too many new messages.  To be frank, business associates everywhere are exhausted from too many e-mails and too much Nice-to-Know data that masquerades as genuine Need-to-Know information.  Your associates, decision makers, and clients need the Need-to-Know.

And . . . there’s a big difference between Nice-to-Know and Need-to-Know!

Dr. Wallisch will give you Nine E-mail Tips that are guaranteed to make your electronic messages more effective:

  1. Using the Right Channel?
  2. Ask, “Who really needs it?”
  3. Write Main-Point Subject Lines
  4. Rewrite Subject Lines
  5. Don’t play the Re, Re, Re Game
  6. Break Chains and Jump Channels
  7. Don’t Select “Reply to All.”
  8. Use Headings and Bullets
  9. Keep it one screen, one subject!!

Bill will present good examples of well-written e-mails and ask you to evaluate your own sample e-mails in light of those Nine Tips.

Create and Present Powerful Visuals

You will view samples of visual aids that were successfully presented because they were well structured, clearly organized, and used effective color schemes.  Dr. Wallisch will discuss the art of matching powerful headlines with pictures and graphs that demonstrate the point visually.

“Death by PowerPoint” is really death by screens filled with too many bullets, words, numbers, and filler.  A good message, delivered at any organizational level, must be short, clear, and persuasive; it can be supported by many forms of visual aids.      Bill will explain how to match the right visual aid with your message . . . and that my well not be either PowerPoint presentation or a multi-page deck that only distracts your audience and robs you of audience eye contact. Sometimes you need no visuals at all!

He will give you tips for presenting presentations with what he calls “Executive Presence.”  As you will see, this method depends on eye contact, conversational tone, and appropriate gestures.  He will tell you that your non-verbals, matched with solid voice control, can be critical factors for influencing and persuading audiences to approve your recommendations and requests. 

Tailor the StratCom agenda to fit your organizational Communication Goals

The agenda covers basic communication skills, but we must also tailor it to fit your specific business-message content.  The more we discuss your specific messages and audiences, the better we can shape the curriculum and exercises. 

Therefore, before Bill comes to an organization, it is so important that the course organizers and key managers spend phone time with him to discuss your local communication challenges and goals.

How to Prepare for the Course

To prepare for the course, participants are asked to think about their personal communication goals: 

  • Are your face-to-face conversations effective? 
  • Are your written messages connecting with your readers? 
  • Are you influencing your audiences? 
  • Do decision makers find your requests and recommendations to be clear and persuasive?

For class day, each participant should bring samples of e-mails and presentations to class. Bill will ask class members to look at their samples . . . and do some editing and rewriting!