Saying the Same Thing Multiple Times

To communicate something to an organization of people, you need to repeat yourself. The more people involved, the more you will need to repeat yourself if you want everyone to really hear it.

Why? Not everyone will see the communication. Even if they see it, it may not register with them. Even if it registers, they may not buy into it. In general, the more you repeat yourself, the more likely people are to hear it, internalize it, and buy into it.


The 1st time people look at ad, they don’t see it.
The 2nd time, they don’t notice it.
he 3rd time, they are aware that it is there.
The 4th time, they have a fleeting sense that they’ve seen it before.
The 5th time, they actually read the ad.
The 6th time, they thumb their nose at it.
The 7th time, they get a little irritated with it.
The 8th time, they think, “Here’s that confounded ad again.”
The 9th time, they wonder if they’re missing out on something.
The 10th time, they ask their friends or neighbors if they’ve tried it.
The 11th time, they wonder how the company is paying for all these ads.
The 12th time, they start to think that it must be a good product.
The 13th time, they start to feel the product has value.
The 14th time, they start to feel like they’ve wanted a product like this.
The 15th time, they start to yearn for it because they can’t afford to buy it.
The 16th time, they accept the fact that they will buy it sometime in the future.
The 17th time, they make a commitment to buy the product.
The 18th time, they curse their poverty because they can’t buy this terrific product.
The 19th time, they count their money very carefully.
The 20th time prospects see the ad, they buy what it is offering.
- Thomas Smith, 1885, Successful Advertising

Seven Corporate Communication Methods

The seven most obvious mechanisms for communicating information inside an organization are:

  1. Slack
  2. Email
  3. Wiki
  4. One on ones
  5. Small team meeting
  6. Large cross team meeting
  7. All hands meeting

Notice that these methods start out targeting specific groups surgically, and get more general. That's intentional; you want the most targeted audience to hear it the most often. Side benefit: by the time you are communicating in a larger group, you have a good chance of having the most effected sub-groups already nodding their heads.

For anything important that many people need to hear about, you should plan on going all the way up to #6 or #7 and all the steps before that.

Minor Communication Methods

In addition, you can also communicate via one of the lesser methods:

  • Written status updates
  • Personal blog

Communication Anti-Patterns

Don't do these.

  • Email a bunch of people without any clear calls to action.
  • Write a book in an email.
  • Write multiple paragraphs without headings, lists or other structure conducive to skimming.

Advanced Communication Tips

  • Include a TL;DR section at the top of your email for the 75% of people who will not read the entire thing.
  • Make the email as short as possible to increase that percentage. Then make it even shorter.
  • Include a link to a wiki page or doc with more info.
  • Include a FAQ in the wiki page or doc.
  • Include a table of contents on that wiki or doc if it gets long enough.
  • Send a pre-read for any meeting communication.
  • On a wiki, assign TODO items right inside the wiki to ask people to certify that they read it.
  • Set a reminder to communication the same thing again in the future.


I'm currently working at NerdWallet, a startup in San Francisco trying to bring clarity to all of life's financial decisions. We're hiring like crazy. Hit me up on Twitter, I would love to talk.

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