6 steps for explaining numbers

The view most people have of communication is a simple one: It’s simple. You either communicate or you don’t.

Well, yes and no, sort of, if you know what we mean.

During the 2014 Nonprofit Executive Summit in Santa Fe, N.M., Anna Cairo of Anna Cairo Consulting said it is important to understand that communication is more than just talking. It is an exchange aimed toward meaningful interaction.

Further, Cairo said, effective communication can be accomplished in six simple steps.

She suggested that anyone think of these six steps before speaking, to be clearer about what needs to be said. The six steps are:

  • Purpose and message. Transmitters of information must be clear in their own minds not only what they want to say but also why they need to communicate the message.
  • Vehicle for communication. The way the message is received will be affected if the wrong vehicle is chosen.
  • Delivering the message. Choice of words and tone of voice and body language (in a speaking context) are central to the way the receiver will interpret the message.
  • Potential barriers. They can include stress, noise, accent, assumptions, defensiveness, distorted perceptions, inconsistency, time/day message is delivered, cultural differences and overload of information.
  • Checking for understanding. Non-verbal clues can help, but checking afterward by asking questions is helpful.
  • Feedback. Seek feedback from the receiver on how to improve message delivery.