If you’re not on the bus, you’ve been left behind at the station, says JANINE LAZARUS
Last week, I took part in a robust IABC Africa panel debate in Cape Town on communicator readiness for 2020.
If facilitated well, such debates can spark frank, unbridled dialogue as was the case under the expert steermanship of Daniel Munslow, IABC International executive board’s director.
As business needs evolve and demands on communicators change, panellists – Mia Azam, Woolworths financial services senior communications manager; Andre Oberholzer, Sappi’s group head of corporate affairs, and Dianne Chase, 2016/2017 Chair of the IABC’s International Executive Board – proposed sound arguments for remaining future fit.
I’d say the more things change, the more things stay the same, but with one caveat: When your audience ‘pays’ you with their time, it becomes even more critical to get your message across efficiently.
The 24-hour news cycle and a lack of historical perspective make us dangerously impatient. Rapid technological disruption, the rebalance of world power, and economic uncertainty, create a volatile, unstable powder keg. Fast disappearing – finally – are the tired communication silos of old with their endless meetings rarely resulting in anything substantial.
Communicators must drill through and translate huge volumes of information into easy-to-understand terms. We need to cut through the clutter and deliver complex messages in a succinct and compelling way. Real-time decisions must be rapidly communicated.
The holy grail of deadline has never been more sacred. To the Twitter generation, a week is an age. If you’re not on the bus, you’ve been left behind. Today’s CEO shares the stage with much younger, often self-taught opinion makers, who get their message across in news their market can use.
I work with leaders across a range of business sectors and see challenges ahead for many. Stellar credentials are no longer enough for executives lacking effective communication skills.
To remain relevant, executives must adopt an agile approach in their communications, particularly by reducing complex messaging into short, sharp sound bytes. If I had to offer my clients some advice, I’d tell them to broaden their circle and find straight shooters who tell them what they need to hear – not what they want to hear.
At last, brutal honesty has found its important place!
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