When I was scheduled to attend a conference in Shanghai a couple of months back, I took a plane. Soon after I returned home and recovered from the jet lag, I got on my bike and rode to the nearby grocery store to pick up some milk. Later, I used the car to pick the kids up from camp.
For these three different journeys, I used three very different vehicles. In some cases, I could have chosen differently – take the car for milk, for example. For the China trip, though, I doubt anything but an Airbus A340 or Boeing 777 would have done the trick.
I tend to view communication in a similar light. Every time I have a message to deliver, I start by thinking about my audience – the destination – and the method I should use – the vehicle – to reach them. Just as it is with my somewhat hackneyed travel analogy, sometimes I have a choice of communication vehicles, while other times the choice may be somewhat narrower.
Regardless, I always start by thinking about the vehicle. It influences how we travel, and it influences how we communicate with each other. The proliferation of new media types makes vehicle choice more critical today than it’s ever been. Make the wrong call and you could find yourself in the messaging equivalent of cycling a high-end mountain bike across the ocean.
We’ll explore vehicles in greater depth in future entries. For now, I hope you’ll take a quick moment to think about the vehicles you use in your day-to-day communication.