The seven C’s of communication is a list of principles for written and spoken communications to ensure that they are effective. The seven C’s are: clear, correct, complete, concrete, concise, considered and courteous.
Summary by The World of Work Project
You can learn more broadly about communication in our podcast on the subject.
The 7 C’s of Communication
The seven C’s of communication is a list of principles that you should ensure all of your communications adhere to. Their purpose is to help ensure that the person you’re communicating with hears what you’re trying to say. The seven C’s are: clear, correct, complete, concrete, concise, considered and courteous.
There are several stages to clarity.
Firstly, it’s important to be clear about the purpose of the message you’re delivering. The recipient should be made aware of why they are receiving the message and what you’re trying to achieve by delivering it. If there are multiple goals, each should be laid out separately.
Secondly, it’s essential that the content of the communication is itself clear. You should avoid jargon, use simple language, use simple structures and focus on the core points of your message.
It’s essential that both the factual information and the language and grammar you use are correct. If your audience spots errors in either, they will be distracted and your credibility will be greatly reduced. This will reduce the effectiveness of your communication.
Completeness is often one of the most important of the 7 Cs of communication.
When creating a message, it’s important to give the recipient all of the information they need to follow your line of reasoning and to reach the same conclusions you have. This level of detail will be different in different situations, and you should adjust your communications accordingly.
In addition, you should make things as easy as possible for the recipient. For example, if you are issuing a “call to action”, provide explicit guidance on that action. Increasingly it’s common to include things like hyperlinks in written communications or to attach FAQs, both of which help audiences access a complete set of information while also ensuring that core communications focus on core messages.
When shaping your communication you must ensure that you are specific and that the logic and messages that you’re using fit together, build on each other and support each other. Your arguments should be based on solid facts and opinions from credible sources and you should share irrefutable data to support your argument.
It may be important to help bring the solid nature of what you’ve created to life for your audience through examples that show the relevance of your messages for them as individuals.
When communicating messages of this nature it’s important to stick to the point and keep your messages short and simple. Don’t use 10 words if you can use five. Don’t repeat your messages.
The more you say, the more risk there is of confusion. Avoid that risk by focusing solely on the key points you need to deliver.
You can increase the effectiveness of your communications by being polite and showing your audience that you respect them. Your messages should be friendly, professional, considerate, respectful, open and honest.
To help ensure you are courteous, you should always use some empathy and consider your messages from the point of view of the audience.
Considered & Coherent
The last of the 7 Cs of communication is considered or coherent. If your communications are not coherent they will not be effective. To help make sure your communications are considered and coherent you should have a logical flow and your style, tone and language should be consistent throughout.
In addition to making sure that each communication you issue is coherent within itself, you should also ensure consistency of message when delivering multiple communications.
To learn more broadly about communication, consider reading our 10 Tips for Effective Presentations. You might also enjoy our posts on Becoming a Better Listener, the Rhetorical Triangle, Feedback and tone of voice and body language.
Communication has an important role to play in motivation, which is a key skill for leaders and managers. You might enjoy learning more about motivation in our podcast introducing the topic:
The World of Work Project View
The seven C’s of communication form a useful checklist for when you want to convey a message or a set of information to an audience.
They are, however, less useful for more emotive, persuasive and rhetorically anchored communications. Their focus on detail, concision and clarity help ensure that your audience understands the key points of what you want to say, but provides little guidance on how to emotionally engage with your audience.
We think the 7 C’s are a useful tool for written and spoken communication in many instances. We think they’re particularly suited to email communications whose purpose is to keep people informed, or to one on one communications which are fairly transactional in nature.
If, though, you’re looking to persuade an audience, lead people through change or win hearts and minds, we recommend you use a different approach to communication such as focusing on the 5 Canons of Rhetoric, Story Telling or Monroe’s Motivated Sequence.
When we work with clients or deliver seminars that cover communication, we often focus on the power of connecting with and understanding other people, and being understood. This side of communication is important for high performing teams.