A Powerful Sequence for Communication

Save time by starting with why.
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Why-What-How

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When we start our messages by first explaining why the message is important, or why the change is needed, we are more likely to see understanding, compliance and execution from our audience. If leaders are able to communicate why effectively, people will want to support the message they are about to receive and will be more willing to comply with the information, rather than be forced to just follow orders.

The Traditional Sequence and the more Powerful Way

It’s rather common for communication, training, or a new process or change to be introduced in the following sequence: What, How, Why. We often start by telling the audience what they need to know and then how they need to do it, leaving the why for last. Without understanding the why, we may have already lost someone’s attention due to concerns about the what or the how. 

In the book, Maxmize Performance, Quint Studer explains, we should strive to flip this sequence around. When we start by connecting to why the information is so critical, leaders can achieve buy-in and build excitement using a more powerful sequence.  

In the graphic above, you can see the suggested sequence for messages is: why, what, how. Emails, presentations, and even individual conversations can all benefit when we connect the message to the why. This can even save people time because when we start with why, people are much more eager to learn the behavior and carry it out. Following the why, what, how sequence can also reduce anxiety, which usually means less time is needed to explain the what and the how.  

“People want to be successful and fulfilled; they want their jobs to take care of their head and heart needs. Sometimes explaining why connects the two needs.”  

– Quint Studer, Maximize Performance 

WHY-WHAT-HOW-COMMUNICATION SEQUENCE TEMPLATE

Use this template to plan and organize messages using the why-what-how sequence. This sequence can be used to communicate change, process updates, and critical news or information. This sequence is appropriate for most messages to keep communication simple and effective.  

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