Slice of Life: Consider Your Audience…Message and Purpose

11454297503_e27946e4ff_hThis weekend, my sister-in-law reported the fact that her nephew, my son, had not followed through on a business opportunity she had set up for him.

I knew about this. I knew he wanted it, and was shocked that he had let it slip.

She went on to explain, “His generation operates by text, they don’t understand that the business world operates by email.”

Apparently my son hadn’t checked his email.

I agreed his generation, doesn’t use email as its prime mode of communication. They don’t check it as they do their texts. But, I thought, my email is a dark hole. Things get buried there so quickly. Anything that matters doesn’t go there. Surely executives have similar issues.

“You see,” she went on, “he (the executive) is continually on planes, the only way he can communicate on a flight is by email. He can’t text.”

Oh, got it. Interesting.

We thrive on communication. The ways and the speed at which we do it are exploding. How we harness it, is complicated. And as always, audience matters. If we don’t ask ourselves how do they connect, what are their constraints, and how do I best reach them, we might not connect.

My mother had to learn to call my cell phone. I don’t answer the land line. Forget calling my daughter. Text is the only thing that will get a response.

You might think this is a generational divide. But consider this: I’m trying to get my friend, who is new to Twitter, to a chat. If I want her to get the message as to the time and hashtag, I text her the information. Tweeting her wouldn’t work. That’s not how she gets her information.

So it’s not just generational; it’s how people access information.  And as I thought about it, it’s more than just access, it’s about purpose.

I recently let Voxer into my life. Initially, I resisted. One more way to get communication felt overwhelming.  But I’ve found, Voxer has a purpose and a place.  It allows for a spoken group conversation. Thoughts expressed through talk are different. They are less restrictive and open up possibilities that might be limited by written words. We know talk is necessary in our classrooms, why not in professional development.

Last week, I was involved in a Google doc discussion on a book. We choose this because of accessibility but also for the type of communication.  We wanted a flexible, communal space to share our ideas. Access, our purpose, and the message being conveyed mattered. The tool we choose to communicate with had to match the needs.

With all of this choice in our personal and professional lives, what about our classrooms. The ways we can communicate are so varied and changing, how do we decide what works best for our students. Perhaps by looking through the lens of audience access, message and purpose the choice will become clearer.

And as for my son, apparently it wasn’t too late. Emails were sent and received. The executive was impressed. The opportunity was saved.

Happy ending and lesson learned:  it won’t matter how good the message is if it isn’t heard.

Thank you to Two Writing Teachers Blog for providing a place every Tuesday to share our writing. Find more slices here.

11 thoughts on “Slice of Life: Consider Your Audience…Message and Purpose

  1. Great piece- it had the emotional “tug” of a mom and aunt wondering how much to help an adult child. I can relate to that. But that was the hook into a thoughtful discussion of ways to communicate and the importance of learning and respecting the listener’s preferences. I could grow in sensitivity in this area. My take away is your idea of all these methods as “tools”, and we simply choose the best tool for our intended purpose. You make me more willing to expand my own repertoire of communication tools.

  2. I am teaching a writing camp this week. I allowed for cell phones since most of them are teenagers. One student was constantly on her phone and even while I was talking. Finally I asked her about it. She composes on her phone. She says her first draft goes on her phone. Then when she copies it, she revises. I’ve always done the opposite. This works for her. And I couldn’t complain. She wasn’t texting. She was writing.

  3. Well written and a concise observation of the changes in communication. My older son has been in Europe for four weeks, and I wasn’t sure how we would stay connected. He hadn’t posted to Facebook or Twitter, and has only posted a few pics to Instagram. But he did figure out that we could message via iPhone as long as he was on wifi, to my great relief.

  4. So many ways to communicate and the list continues to grow! We do need to consider audience, purpose, and message. Glad your son was able to connect for the job.

  5. I’m participating in #CyberPD & this is much of what we’re discussing, possibilities are endless & growing, so must discover what works “this time”. Good last line: “it won’t matter how good the message is if it isn’t heard.” Happy to hear that it all worked out for your son.

  6. Fascinating reflection and observation. Amazing way to weave both of your stories. I love the way that you are utilizing various tools to meet your needs. I felt for your son and was pleasantly surprised at the happy ending! Perhaps he could have been told ahead that email was the main form of communication. Interesting … but so happy it all worked out! I started with Voxer in the last couple months as well. I was hesitant, but find that I enjoy it (and I say “um..” and “ya know” too much — yes, I still occasionally go back and listen to myself.) Love to hear more about your Voxer and GoogleDoc groups! Keep me posted — perhaps starting a new group? I know too many people can make it overwhelming, but what do I know? The biggest group I’m participating in has 3!

  7. “So it’s not just generational; it’s how people access information. And as I thought about it, it’s more than just access, it’s about purpose.”
    Ah, I love this! I’m reading Franki Sibberson’s book right now, and this so connects to all I’m learning. I’ll have to give Voxer a try.

  8. Wow! Again you write such a thought provoking piece. You gave me a lot to think about and inspire me to grow. Thank you Julieanne

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