Principles of Effective Communication

{This is a stub - elaborations and references are needed, explorations of modality-specific issues, process formalization for OpenAir quality, etc.}

Effective communication is essential to present the case for policy, to shape public opinion, and to convince legislators how to act.

Transmission models of communication tend to have the following elements:

  1. Identifications of “sender” and “receiver”
  2. Message content - the essential concept(s)
  3. Code - language (broadly speaking) that is mutually comprehensible
  4. Modality - the channel of communication; voice, imagery, social media
  5. Medium - within a channel, an actual block of content; a speech, a photo, a post
  6. Noise - that which interferes with the content; jargon, bias, distractions
  7. Environment - cultural contexts, mutually understood assumptions?, limitations on expression
  8. Feedback - reversal of send and receive roles for verification that the content is being conveyed.

To communicate effectively, to inform and persuade, one must assess all these factors.

Further analysis of preparation for a communication effort

Analyze (purpose-inform/persuade, audience - primary/secondary, content - address objections, medium, outcome),
Compose (schedule work, organize content, draft, design message-outline/bullet/chart),
Evaluate - main point reveal; initial(receptive audience)/final(resistant audience); content revision, style and tone edits, proofread, incorporate feedback
– leads to further analysis (complete, clear, concise?), etc.

drafting barriers: perfectionism, writer’s block → try free writing, dictating, easy parts first!

  • From the beginning, focus on purpose
  • Short paragraphs with strong topic sentences
  • Headings and sequences “First, second, etc.” or bullet points
  • Make specific conclusions

  • adopt audience perspective; what do they NEED to know, how does it benefit them?
  • adopt self perspective, what goals does presenter have and how will they support audience follow-through?

clear, concise content; organized message structure; focused code; complete (do not assume the message is received without feedback).

focus on communicator
avoid interruption
convey attentiveness
non-verbal cues: face, posture, eye contact, tone, breathing