Texting, emailing, slacking (a communication thing now--right?)... all these channels rely on typed words with no vocal nuance. This lean messaging can also lead to being confused and getting ignored.
The message could be an email, or a multi-part text, or even some meeting notes after the face-to-face.
- For the first sentence or phrase, communicate how the message is CONNECTED to what the recipient does, or wants to be doing, or to accomplish: "Since I know you're working on the ____ project..." When we start this way, we are making the message more relevant, and the recipient more attentive. We are answering the "why do I care?" question.
- The second part is to provide a LIST of actions... It can be a one-item list. Here are the things the recipient could do to realize their goals in Point 1 (see above). It's a very good idea to make this 'list' either a set of steps or a single boldface command.
- Set the EXPECTATIONS. Share what results they can expect from taking action. What does the recipient's success look like? Paint a picture. Say, "if you follow my suggestion, you'll see progress in...." As David Allen would say "what does success feel like?"
- Point out the ABILITY of the recipient(s) to achieve their goals. The LIST of actions you provided in step 2 must be things that the recipient is empowered or capable of doing. Remind the recipient they have the power, whether it's formal authority, talent or even just persistence. (If during this step you realize the recipient does not have the capability to execute the list you provided in Point 2, stop and reconsider your message.)
- Close the message by clarifying the RETURN (or ROI: return on investment). Spell out "what's in it for me, as the recipient of this message." Show your faith in their capabilities and how you will rejoice in their success. They need to know they can get what they want. This point is often referred to as the WIIFM: the "What's in it for me?" point.
In many cases, you should let them know that success is not the only good outcome. If they can explain all the causes and issues that obstructed success, and they know that sharing this information will benefit them, then their shared knowledge may benefit many, many more people.
This communication model has been invaluable to me over the years. It doesn't always make things happen, but when it doesn't work, I usually end up with clear feedback. And I'm always sure that I'm not wasting my time or someone else's energy.