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Discover your stakeholders!

Audience, target group, stakeholders – call them what you will, one way or another they are part of your project, and they are also part of the solution! But who exactly are they?

The literature tells us that our audience is the people or groups of people affected by or interested in a given project or activity. What’s the point of analysing or mapping them, you ask? I'll give you a hint: would you use the same level of language when talking to a group of students versus a group of seniors? And there’s your answer: you need to adjust.

How is your audience part of the solution? 

We live in a time where we need to consider the opinions of the various actors associated with a project. Instead of viewing them as an obstacle, we should view them as stakeholders in the project, because when they are engaged, they represent a pool of expertise and talent that can provide solutions and options for your project.

How does it work in practice?

There are several stakeholder mapping models that we can use to position their needs and determine which category they belong to. One of the most common stakeholder mapping models (the power-interest matrix) classifies stakeholders according to two axes and four levels of interest. Thus, we can group our audience into the following four categories:

  • High power, highly interested people (Manage closely)
  • High power, less interested people (Keep satisfied)
  • Low power, highly interested people (Keep informed)
  • Low power, less interested people (Monitor)

Personally, I like to add the concept of internal versus external stakeholders, which is a dimension that allows us to balance our message and set a tone that is in line with the company’s values, especially for our internal audiences. Using this model also allows us to establish trust, plan our actions strategically and obtain more feedback on the project. There are other models you can use as well, especially for more complex projects. I invite you to do some research and find the one that meets your needs. 

Digging deeper and identifying our audience… 

Now it’s time to dig deeper and find out what motivates our various audiences. To do that, we need to ask ourselves several questions:

  • What motivates them?
  • What do they need from us? (information, communication, reassurance)
  • What is their opinion of the project?
  • Do they have particular interests? (economic, social, legal)

Remember, it’s highly unlikely that your entire project will be approved as it is first presented. Be prepared for change requests and positive criticism, and engage in dialogue with your various stakeholders to get them involved in your project as early as possible. Go ahead, discover your allies!

Geneviève Laforest
Change Management and Communication Consultant


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