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Know Feel Do: Why this model can improve engagement and deliver stronger communications

"You can't understand someone until you've walked a mile in their shoes"

Working in communications as a writer and a consultant I believe that one of the core aspects of it is understanding the people I'm communicating with. The Know Feel Do model is something I advocate regularly for when I’m working with my clients, particularly if I’m working as a consultant on a change project because it ensures that this empathetic and considered thinking happens before communications are written.

One of the reasons I think this model is so powerful and effective is because it can be used and adapted to any business and any size of team doing pretty much anything.

Frank Luntz had it right when he said “It’s not what you say, it’s what people hear” and the more experienced I get as a communications consultant, writer and well, frankly as a human who has conversations and interactions, I’m reminded often just how right this is.

And this is exactly the reason that Know Feel Do is so effective because it works backwards and helps you the content creator and / or the instigator of change (often not the same person) get into the mindset of the person receiving the messages you’re creating for them.

What will they hear?

What do you need them to hear, to understand, to feel?

And most importantly what do you want them to do?

In reality how know feel do can help

Let’s take an example, if you send out a communication, an email let’s say, full of excitement introducing a new piece of technology being developed which when it’s launched will save time and effort of particular teams, you may be thinking this is great. You’ll likely be coming from the perspective that the teams will love the fact their jobs will get easier and free them up to do higher value work. It’s important to remember though, that that’s just one option. And you’re coming from a place of knowledge. Your readers are not.

Another option that could be interpreted from this email is completely opposite. The teams reading this email may take the leap to believing their job is under threat. Now, hear me out because I appreciate this may seem extreme (but I’ve seen this happen first hand). A new piece of technology which replaces part of a job or changes a role, could be viewed as a precursor to redundancy. This makes them not only resistant to the change, but also lowers morale and increases fear over job security. And so the dominoes begin to wobble if not fall. And all because one email wasn’t considered from the perspective of the reader.

Words have power

I appreciate this is subjective and a fairly extreme example. But, words have power. And as a communications specialist you should never underestimate that power of words and messaging to connect with and influence your audience.

Taking into consideration the state and maturity of the business you're working in is critical to communications, especially where there's a sensitivity to how the communications will be interpreted.

The Know Feel Do model enables you to consider and reflect what the outcome of the communications is intended to be, which results in a greater consideration of the context in which you're creating communications. As a communications specialist being driven by both the context in which you're operating and the desired outcome from the information you're sharing is imperative to produce not just high quality communications but highly impactful, positive and engaging messages too.

(Check out my very own screen shots of how to get started using Know Feel Do in your communications plans - PowerPoint's finest!)

Why it matters... beyond the obvious

As I’ve said in an earlier post on change communications. More and more internal communications departments are adopting change communication practices such as generating a two-way conversation, and using quantitative data (surveys) and qualitative data (anecdotal feedback) to inform the success, value and effectiveness of their communications teams.

This is why it’s so important to walk a mile in the shoes of the people on the receiving end of the communications and messages you’re sharing, to ensure that not only are they received in the way you want them to be but to also ensure that they have the impact and inspire the activity you intend too.

For further information or a chat about how Alcea Consulting can support you in creating quality content and communications for your team and business drop Ellen an email at:

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