People hate uncertainty. Business markets hate uncertainty. But the one thing we have had a lot of in recent months is uncertainty. This is a big issue for communicators who face having to make difficult decisions about what to say. Do you say ‘we could do x’ or be more definite and say ‘we will be doing x’?
I listened a week or so ago to Dr Vincent Covello talk about the issue of providing a definite response in a works where uncertainty reigns. He talked about the importance of not saying something that may not happen. He said if you miss a target even by just 1 percent people will view it as a miss and it can start to undermine confidence.
Listening to the radio news this morning that talk came to the forefront of my mind. In a report about the Indian variant of Covid that is seeing an increase in parts of the U.K. the report stated that people could be called for a second jab early to try and halt transmission. Could was the word that rung out for me. Could or will?
People may well be asking why there is no clear plan to deal with the emergent of variants. We are starting to accept that we will be living with the virus for some time to come and dealing with variants will be an ongoing issue.
At the moment we risk people only hearing that they can hug relatives, will soon be meeting people indoors and that there will be a return to ‘normal’ life in the summer. A conversation around managing risks, being alert to changes required due to variants and to remember personal hygiene measures would be more beneficial.
Words really so matter. During a crisis choosing the right words and building trust and confidence is critical. It is time for communicators to take the research and use it to develop more effective communication to take us through turbulent times.