Communicating effectively

Jackie Demetriou


We are always communicating something about ourselves, others and the world! By our very nature, we cannot help but communicate. But communication can be a minefield of unintended misunderstandings because each individual experiences the world from his/her unique set of mental and emotional filters comprising his/her values, beliefs, cultures, past experiences, context, personal situations and their psychological and physical states. So, nobody quite sees or experiences the world in exactly the same way as what you do.

In order to communicate effectively, there are a number of things we need consider in order to ensure that our messages have been understood as intended.

Begin with the end in mind

In his bestselling book, The Habits of Highly Effective People, Steven Covery emphasizes the importance of being clear about what it is you want before starting any endeavor. If you know what you want, you are able to start planning on how you are going to achieve this. So, from this perspective, before you start communicating, be clear on what message you want to convey to your target audience as well as the reason or purpose, therefore.

Know your audience

Given that we all have different lived experiences and frames of reference through which we interpret and understand the world, it’s vitally important to have an understanding of the characteristics of your target audience in order that you are able to craft a message in a way that likely to hit its intended meaning. Whilst you will not be able to know everything about the members of your target audience, it is important to make some assumptions of what might be known, such as the current context, situation, culture, language, mood, past reactions to similar situations and so forth.

Well-structured content

Now that you know what you want to communicate, you need to figure out how to communicate it in a way that will minimize misinterpretations and misunderstandings. Structure the content in a logical manner so that it easily flows, and its different parts are connected. There are several types of messages, such as those intended for information only and others requiring action. Be clear about what is required, from either you, your audience or both. Whatever the intention of the communique is, structuring it in terms of What, Why, Who, When and How, as applicable, is helpful in crafting a well-formed communique.

Communication Medium

How are you going to communicate your message? In person, face-to-face or over digital platforms, via telephone, telephonic texts, social media, email or other written media? Whatever medium or media you use to communicate your message will to some extent, have an impact on how it is received and interpreted. The meaning of your message is not merely that contained in the content, but includes how it is conveyed, with both body language and verbal qualities greatly influencing how it is understood. Hence, it’s important to choose the most effective manner of communicating your message for it to stand a chance of being understood intended.


The topic of communication universal, comprising a multitude of components. Getting it right is beneficial to having great relationships and achieving your desired outcomes. By beginning with the end in mind, knowing your target audience, structuring your messages in a way that flows and using the correct communication modalities go a long way towards effectively communicating with others and getting your message across as intended.