5 Ws and 1H – 6 questions all Communication Mechanisms Should Answer

All communication professionals are teachers. The very nature of our profession requires we impart our knowledge on others. We achieve when communication improves and we succeed when our styles and suggestions become inculcated into the fabric of corporate sub culture. So, what would the 1st day of effective Corporate Communication Skills 101 entail? What would lesson #1 be?

My answer? The Corporate Communications answer to “123, abc” (the first things taught to toddlers in pre k) is the 5 Ws and 1H: 6 questions every communication mechanism (interpret – media release, letter to public official/ customer/ stakeholder, internal correspondence, newsletter, memo etc) should answer are:

  1. WHO: Who is sending the message? Who is the intended recipient or audience? Their title, status and rank will impact the tone and style of communication. You would not write a text message to your significant other using the same style and language you would use to write a letter to the VP Human Resources of that international firm you always dreamed of working for.
  2. WHAT: What are you trying to communicate? What is your objective? What do you need the recipient to do/ see/ feel after reading the letter. This too, shapes the style and content of your letter.
  3. WHERE: Where are you communicating from and where are you communicating to? Where do they need to send a reply? Where do they need to go upon receipt of this information or to learn more?
  4. WHY: Why should your audience care about the info you are sharing? Why should they act upon receipt? In today’s world, why is also answered by “what’s in it for me, the recipient of this info”. The why should be close to the beginning of your communication as, most time, its was communication recipients look for (and care about most). Think: “I know you need groceries mom. Lend me your car and I will pick those up to you on the way back from the date with the guy YOU like.” (over the top yes – but you see my point).
  5. WHEN: When should recipients respond or show response or indicate they have recieved the info? Is there a deadline to respond? Is there a penalty if said deadline is missed.
  6. HOW: How do they show they have received the message? How do recipients put the information received to use?

So, the next time you begin to craft your message, revisit the 5 ws and the H and train others in the effective use of same in getting their messages – corporate or otherwise, across.


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One Response to “5 Ws and 1H – 6 questions all Communication Mechanisms Should Answer”

  1. Is FACEBOOK really that powerful? YES! « Communication Questions Says:

    […] those who were interested in “something different”, by utilizing social media to ask the 5 Ws and the H  (who what where when why and how) they could deliver on a new product, the brand was born. Daily […]

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