The Communication Cycle

Six Steps to Better Communication

Communication Cycle

Get your communications right every time.

© iStockphoto/Bibigon

The ability to express an idea is well nigh as important as the idea itself. – American businessman, Bernard Baruch

Whether you're writing an email to a co-worker, delivering on the job training to a new team member, or giving an important presentation to your board of directors, you must communicate in a way that is clear, concise, and easy to understand.

But do you ever get lost while organizing your message, or struggle to identify what your audience truly needs to know?

There are so many factors to consider during preparation and presentation that it's easy to forget an important point. The Communication Cycle is a six-step process that helps you develop and refine your message. It helps you ensure that you don't forget anything essential the first time you present it, and it helps you maximize its impact in the times that follow. By putting the process into the form of a cycle, this approach encourages you to use the feedback you receive to improve your communications in the future.

In this article, we'll examine the Communication Cycle, and look at how you can use it to improve your daily communications. We'll also give an example that shows how you can use the Communication Cycle when delivering an important communication.

Understanding the Communication Cycle

The Communication Cycle (shown below in Figure 1) provides a checklist that helps you communicate effectively with your audience.

The Communication Cycle

Note 1:

You can apply the Communication Cycle to any situation where communication is involved, but you'll likely find it most useful for preparing and delivering important or complex communications, such as team or organizational emails, marketing materials, and presentations.

Note 2:

The Communication Cycle doesn't include a "test" step. However, you can still apply steps 3, 4, 5 and 6 to testing your communication. (For example, by asking colleagues to proofread and comment on text, or by practicing a presentation in front of a small group.) You then use any feedback to change and improve your message when you restart the cycle.

How to Use the Communication Cycle

Follow these steps to use the cycle:

Step 1: Clarify Your Aim

Organize your thoughts about the message that you want to communicate by answering these questions:

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