Do you cater to your audience?

Last updated by Chloe Lin [SSW] 5 months ago.See history

Often when you are talking with others, it is easy to forget they have a different background and experience to you. Then, once you start explaining something to them, they easily become lost. So, it is crucial to think about your audience before talking.

Some examples of the differences in what different people on the team might care about include:

  • Product Owner - May not care about all the technical details, but cares a lot about PBI progress, roadblocks, etc.
  • Developer – Cares a lot about technical details but may not be as concerned with the business side of things
  • Designer – Cares a lot about the UI and user experience but may not be as interested in technical details

Scenario - Adding a new field to an app

Let's say you've been asked to add a new field "Customer Name" to the Northwind app Projects page. You are making progress and it's almost finished but there are a few important points.

  • Business Impact - The PBI effort is 4 story points (~8 hours) and you've already almost used up your time, but you think it will take roughly 4 more hours to finish
  • Technical - There is a problem because the CustomerId is being stored in the Projects table without any relationship to the Customers table
  • UX - You aren't sure about where to put the field on the page

First, let's see what a bad example of explaining this PBI looks like:

Hey,

I’m almost done with this PBI but I'm having trouble adding the "Customer Name" field to the Projects page because there is no relationship set up in the database.

I'm also not sure about where to put the new field on the Projects page... I'm thinking of putting it in the top left, but am open to opinions.

Overall, I think the PBI is going to take a few more hours than we thought due to these roadblocks.

Figure: Bad example - The message's audience is not targeted, making it hard for others to decipher

So, how would you explain this scenario to different people?

Explaining to the Product Owner

They're probably not as concerned about the UX problem or the technical issues, so you want to emphasize the business value and any roadblocks.

It's also a good idea to give them the option to hear more technical details incase they want to learn more.

Hey,

I'm almost done with this PBI but it's going to take a few hours more than we estimated because I've run into some roadblocks.

I need to have a chat with the Design team about how to best handle the UX and with the development team about how to resolve a technical issue.

Once I've done that then it should be ready to deploy to dev :)

Would you like to know more technical details, or should I get cracking?

Figure: Good example - Targeting the message towards the Product Owner

Explaining to the Developer

They're probably not as concerned about the UX problem or the business impact, so you want to emphasize the technical side so they can help you out.

Hey,

I'm having trouble adding the "Customer Name" field to the Projects page because there is no relationship set up in the database.

Do you think I should add it?

Figure: Good example - Targeting the message towards the Developer

Explaining to the Designer

They're probably not as concerned about the technical issue or the business impact, so you want to emphasize the UX problem so they can help you out.

Hey,

I'm adding a new field to the Projects page for customer name. I'm thinking of putting it in the top right.

Do you think that is the right place?

Figure: Good example - Targeting the message towards the Designer

Taking it further #1 - Knowing individuals

You can take this idea even further once you get to know specific people. Try to pick out the things you think they care about.

For example, I might know that Jane...

  • Cares a lot about Employee Experience and Automation
  • Doesn't care about dressing well

Or I might know that Bob...

  • Cares a lot about meeting deadlines
  • Doesn't care about budget

Once you figure out each person's characteristics you can then target your messages even more for maximum effectiveness.

Taking it further #2 - Reading the room

One other thing to take into account is that what you say is only 1/2 of the journey to understanding. The other 1/2 is the recipient listening, so:

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