There are at least two distinct ways to start a communications assignment. You can begin by asking, “What do I want to say?” or “What is the audience looking for and ready to hear?”

During a recent joint writing project, there were groups wanting to start with each question. It quickly became clear that the end result differed based on which question was the beginning point.

So which is the right way? It’s to answer both questions before you start writing.

It’s important to first know the communication objective (ask, “What are we trying to accomplish?”) and then swing around and sit in the audience’s seats. Process what you want to say with their eyes, ears, and minds as best you can to determine how what you want to communicate needs to be shared so they receive the intended message.