Q - I am in the middle of project to reduce our workforce. Needless to say, it's controversial and has people on edge... what's the best way to communicate our progress as we move through the project steps?
A - There is a wise piece of advice on communicating change - "tell people what you know, when you know it." I'd make that your goal when planning the project's communications. Also, you need to do a great job of providing context - I call this "explaining the why." Make sure people understand why the company is initiating this project; they may not like it, but try to get them to at least understand it. Then, keep people informed along the way - tell them what the steps are going to be, and milestone dates (if you can). Once a step has been completed, be honest about what it entailed, how decisions were made, etc. At the end of the project, be sure to share the who, what, and how of the change - including the "now what" - just because the project is over, doesn't mean people won't still have questions. You can't over-communicate in a situation like this, so make the communications plan as big a part of the project as the goal itself.
Q - I have an important all-hands meeting coming up - how can I make a big impact with my opening speech?
A - Tell a story. Leaders who tell stories have a much better chance of having their messages stick with their audiences. Link your main messages to 1-2 stories from your personal or business life, or reference an event from history that illustrates your key points. Unleash the power of metaphors (which poeple will be more likely to remember) with a well-placed story, and you'll wow your team!