Each Wednesday at 10am EST, we host a Weekly Communication Support Check-In to share best practices and discuss with each other how we are communicating differently (or the same) during the current social and health crisis. Here are some notes from this week’s meet-up that may help you navigate what’s most important to communicate now.
…even if you are beyond busy (and/or overwhelmed)
Often during our weekly “communications support group” I quote my husband Phil who reminds me to do “one impossible thing at a time.” These days with so much going on, so much grief and hurting, and so much still uncertain, it can be really difficult to keep communication flowing. Responding to e-mails, doing the next promotion on our list, or making updates to social media & websites can feel less important or valuable given everything that is being said.
Here are some ways that I honor my commitment to keeping communication flowing, because I know that it’s one of the core practices to addressing issues and making real change:
- I often check my assumption that communication is going to take too long. How long will it really take for me to respond to someone’s e-mail? Not long if I’m not making it long and complicated. Getting to the point, remembering the social arts, and letting it go are key for me. How long will it really take for me to write up a blog post? I have my notes, I know how to structure writing, I have given a time chunk to it – I will do my best with the time and ideas that I have.
- Lately I’ve been taking more personal responsibility for my time and energy. Rabbit-holes don’t actually “suck us in” – we willingly go into them. Often because we are feeling scared and helpless during this time and hope to see an answer. Sometimes to numb out our own personal experience with what’s going on in the world. Acknowledging and managing my own experience with social media and one-on-one conversations helps me make sure that I don’t squeeze time to the point that I can’t keep connecting with people.
- Thinking before communicating and doing a little bit of planning goes a LONG way. It really doesn’t have to take long. The more I do it, the faster I seem to be able to do it. Having a practice is just that: practicing over and over again so you can put your skills into action when they are needed most.
- Design = self-determination. Many of you know us as the creative hub for engaging people in issues & culture. Underneath everything we do is a belief in Designing for Social Impact. Working backwards from a vision, iteratively designing a path, testing designed systems with the people who will use them, and tweaking to keep systems dynamic and relevant. Designing your own system (as an organization and as individuals) is a key to responsibility and self-determination to reach whatever goals you are working toward.
- Sticking with it. Systems are only as good as their usability. And you have to use them to know if they are helping you get your work done. Many of us creative, solution-oriented people can spend a lot of time developing a system – but not much time trying it, improving it from first-hand experience and consistency. Many of us with strong imaginations stop with the design. We’ve envisioned it, we figured out the puzzles and then we want to move on to the next problem to be solved (I’m not even going to go into how we sometimes MAKE more problems to be solved just to be able to do that…). Lately, I’ve been really trying to put that energy into real problem-solving for the people we collaborate with – and my own art.
This week I shared a new tool to help people take the guesswork out of Promotion. The PROMOTION SCHEDULER is a set of simple sheets that automatically determine dates for the key points in the promotional flow. Here are some features:
- Choose the duration of your promotion from 1-week to 27+ weeks with variations in between.
- Enter your start date (Promotion Planning) and enter your Launch date and the sheet will create the dates for each major step along the way.
- See the key for definitions used in the communication flow
- Copy the rubric and paste it into your Promotion Planning Tool and you have everything in one place.
- If you have more advanced Task management systems (Asana, Google Calendar, etc.) you can Download the .CSV version of the sheet you’ve plotted and upload it right into those other tools. You will probably need to adjust them a little into your system and you’ll need to set recurring tasks.
You’ll need to understand how data fields interact with each other, but it’s not hard. There are lots of resources if you do a search on Google “Importing CSV to Asana/Google Calendar/Todoist, etc.”
What is Getting In Your Way?
When I feel like putting off communication or stuck, I ask myself 2 questions about the barriers:
- Is this a real moment to pause?
- Or am I making it more complicated than it needs to be?
Here are two examples that I shared during our discussion:
- The COVID and Black Lives Matter moments are real reasons to pause communication to be very clear about priorities. It doesn’t mean that you stop, but it means you probably need to be more thoughtful about timing, content, feedback, etc.
- Doing my blog post from this session would be very easy to de-prioritize. I have a LOT going on right now. I could easily fixate on how complicated that post might be and how I won’t have the right visuals, research, etc. I could think that I don’t have the right energy or focus to do it justice. All of that is about ME, not about the goal of removing barriers for fearless communication and action. I have my prep notes, we did the session and I have a tool to share. This is one example of how I needed to stick with it and just get it done in the best way possible in the time that I have allotted for it.
(PS – if you find a typo, lemmeknow!)
- Keep communication flowing. Take a second to consider if communication will really take as long as you think.
- Rely on designed systems that make it easier for you to take personal responsibility and action for your time and energy. Take a little time to think things out. Use tools and practices that are more focused on keeping communication flowing than adding more layers to complexity.
- Be mindful. Communication is a living thing. It takes care and attention in every instance. It doesn’t have to be overwhelming if you are practiced at navigating its tendency to get confused, carry emotion or induce some fear. This is the time for moving beyond all of that and being clear and deliberate to move positive and constructive ideas forward.
- Public Image Works: The Empowered Method Behind Our Work
- Promotion Planning Tool
- Promotion Scheduler