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Communication is a key part of our working environments, whether you be in the construction industry or working as a teacher.

With the importance of communication in everyone’s lives, it is quite concerning that often the message that is trying to be conveyed is not done properly due to ineffective communication.

An organization called COMPASS created what is known as ‘The Message Box’ to help effectively convey and share knowledge.

Let’s look at what The Message Box Communications Tool is and how you can implement the Message Box Communications tool to help your team communicate effectively .

What is The Message Box Communications Tool?


The Message Box Communications tool as mentioned was created by an organization called COMPASS.

COMPASS is an organization that caters to connecting and supporting science leaders to make a connection and work towards the improvement of both nature and people for the future.

The Message Box tool is a powerful concept that helps individuals take all the information in their mind and relay it to audiences without losing out on the key message and takeaway.

The tool was created by COMPASS as a way for scientists to share their knowledge and engage with audiences without having to lose out or compromise on the accuracy of what they are portraying or the science they are speaking of.

While the tool was originally created to help scientists explain and convey their information and messages, the message box tool can be adopted by different individuals with a little tweaking and can be used to convey a variety of different types of messages.

You can use the message box tool to communicate with your audience whether that be planning a meeting with your team, preparing for interviews with potential stakeholders, or creating an impactful presentation.

Let’s look at how the message box can help you communicate effectively with your chosen audience to the best of your abilities.

How Does the Message Box Communications Tool Works?

You can consider the functioning and usage of a message box as an iterative process. Using a message box takes constant editing and focusing.

When you start using the message box tool you will likely have a load of information in your head that you wish to convey.

The first step in the message box tool is to identify who the audience for your communication is intended to be.

After deciding who your target audience is you move on to work on the five sections of the message box. These sections are: the issue, the problem, the benefits, the solutions, and so what.

Which order to choose to go through each of these five sections is entirely up to you.

The message box tool is based on the core principles of effective communication.

These core communication principles include understanding who you are conversing with. Simply spewing information at an individual will be ineffective in communicating your valuable message.

By taking the time to understand who you are talking to you can better understand how you can get your point across so the individual considers it.

Another core principle of communication is focusing on a main or key point. It is this key matter that you want to start with.

Following on from focusing on your main message, effective communication means keeping your communication limited to ensure it has an impact and to make sure that the point you are trying to get across does not get lost in other points.

Not only should you limit the points you want to put across, but you should also avoid jargon to ensure your message has a greater impact.

A message box tool is a nonlinear tool, this means that after you have pinpointed or recognized who the target audience for your message is, you can choose any of the sections of the message box to start with.

So, let us look at each stage of using the message box for effective communication.

Getting Started with your Message Box Communications Tool

As we mentioned, after understanding who your target audience is you can choose which way and in which order you want to work through your message box.

Therefore, due to its nonlinear format, you do not need to follow the order that we have used to discuss the message box tool.

1. Figuring out your Target Audience

The only step in using the message box tool that needs to be done in order is to figure out your target audience. This should be the first step in using the message box for effective communication.

You want to avoid creating a generalized message box with the wider public or an unclassified group in mind.

Taking a general approach means you will be addressing people with different backgrounds, interests, motivations, values, etc. which will affect the way they hear your message meaning that your communication will not be as successful as possible.

communication and collaboration are key to success

Understanding the goal for your communication can help you identify who your exact target audience is.

If you take the time to understand and identify the way your target audience perceives information you will be better equipped to build on that understanding and reach them on a deeper level so they register and remember your message.

Once you have identified your target audience you can move on to the different sections of the message box tool.

2. The Issue Section

The issue section is the section in the centre of the message box tool.

This section should be used to identify the exact issue or topic you are wishing to address. This section can be seen as a broader view of what it is you are communicating. In other words, the context of your message.

Don’t be too specific in this section, yet aim to be concise and clear.

At times the issue section is what frames the rest of your message box. At other times once the message box has been filled individuals feel that the overarching topic has changed or altered since they started.

3. The Problem Section

The next section we will be looking at is the problem section of the message box.

The problem section should be used to identify what out of the broader issue are you going to be addressing.

This is where your understanding of your audience also comes into play. Figure out what it is you are addressing and how it would matter to your audience.

This section is also important as it connects to the so what section and helps you describe what it is you wish to talk about.

A common question is what the difference between the Issue section and the Problem section is. The Problem section compared to the Issue section is more specific while the Issue section helps you provide context and the broader picture.

Depending on the context, you may find you have more than one problem that needs to be discussed. This is entirely okay, but you should try to focus on what problem is of more importance to your target audience.

4. The So What Section

The so what section is used to identify why your target audience should care about what you are trying to relay to them.

You need to know why you are talking to them about whatever it is your communication is, as well as why it is important to them.

This section will change from audience to audience and is the main reason you want to properly identify your target audience at the start of this communication journey.

By knowing who your audience is you can answer the question of what should be communicated to them.

Effective communication is not simply about what you say but also about listening to your audience and having a conversation. Not only should you care about what you say but also how you say it and what elements of your message you should focus on.

5. The Solution Section

The solution section of the message box is a response to the problem section. You use this section to outline any potential options available to solve the problems identified.

At every stage of the message box, keep your communication goal in mind. It is no different when you are filling out your solution section either.

Another important consideration is whether your audience can influence or affect the solution you are proposing in any way.

Try and ensure that your problem and solution relate. If this is not the case consider the scale of the problem you identified and whether the solution matches the scale.

You should also look into whether the solution you propose is specific enough in order to properly address the problem identified.

6. The Benefit Section

The benefits section highlights the benefits of the solution you proposed, as well as the benefits of addressing the problem in the first place.

Try and be specific as possible in this section so that you can really make an impact. Highlight the positives so that your audience can understand why this message is being conveyed to them.

You may find your so what section and benefits section to overlap or be similar in certain respects. This is okay. You want to remember that the message box tool is aimed and helping you focus your message.

Use the box to decide what is the most important thing to say and to ensure it is relevant to the target audience you identified.

In Summary

There you have it, everything you need to know about the Message Box Communications tool and how you can use this powerful technique to effectively communicate with your target audience.

We hope this post enables you to convey the message you have in your head to the right people in the best way possible.

Happy communicating!

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