As Startup founders we have a lot of audiences: our investors, our employees, our clients, and our partners. Communicating with them is not always intuitive and easy, but it is always critical to the success of our Startup.
Communication is important, it is the root of our society, the pillar of any successful relationship. It helps us set expectations and pass information, yet in many cases it is neglected by early stage founders and it is considered as “overhead” or “burden”.
Why do we see over-communication as a burden?
As humans we make a lot of assumptions – we assume our counterpart/audience is focused, attentive, and ready to communicate, we assume certain level of knowledge, we assume that there are no cultural or language barriers, we assume that they get that “no news is good news”, we assume that they read the memo and remember the last meeting. All these assumptions are usually wrong.
Tips for effective communication:
1) Use written communication to backup and solidify verbal conversations.
2) Provide periodic updates – people like habits, this gives them the comfort of expecting your update.
3) Recap/Repeat important points – “as discussed, it is important for us to…..”.
4) In extreme cases use this – “Tell them what you are going to tell them, then tell them, then tell them what you told them”.
5) Provide the audience the ability to ask questions and provide feedback.
6) Fine tune your communication to the audience – VCs like it short and backed by numbers, users might like it friendly and humoristic, your employees might want you to be open and transparent, but your partners want to get only the executive summary.
7) Have an executive summary (check out tl;dr) be mindful of your audience attention span and time.
This advice is relevant for startup founders as well as managers in big enterprises. I found communication to be super important in all the big enterprises I worked for.