Key learning outcomes:

  • Adopt the seven C’s to increase your business and personal success.
  • Develop a checklist of key items before creating a message to ensure it is meaningful and complete.
  • Learn to create messages that convey confidence and certainty.
  • Recognise that some messages are more effective if delivered in person rather than in writing.


Both in business and in life generally, your ability to communicate will have a direct impact on your level of success. Think about how often you communicate every day, and the methods you use to communicate – over the phone, in person, via email or through social media are just a few examples. With people generally time poor these days, and with so many things vying for our attention, the ability to communicate effectively has become more important than ever. The “seven C’s” of communication have their origin in the 1950s when they were published by University of Wisconsin professors Scott Cutlip and Allen Center in their book, Effective Public Relations. The principles are just as relevant today as they were in the 1950s, and can improve the effectiveness of both your oral and written communication. We will outline each of the seven C’s and give you some tips on how to implement them to improve your own communication skills.


For a message to be complete it must contain all the information that the audience requires. You will save time and unnecessary hassle if you ensure all of the information is conveyed the first time around, eliminating the need for follow-up or clarification. A complete message allows the recipient to act or make a decision based on all the relevant facts and information. A complete message will also contain a call to action or an alert to the recipient to respond or act in some way.

Tip:      Before conveying your message, make a checklist of the information that you need to include such as times, locations, key details and any required response or action. Use this when drafting any written correspondence or use it when speaking to someone in person or over the phone to ensure you do not leave anything out.[wlm_ismember]


A concise message is conveyed in the least number of words possible. It limits the use of filler or unnecessary words that may serve to confuse or distract the recipient when absorbing the message. In today’s fast-paced world, the ability to be concise in your communication is appealing to your audience. Conciseness can also convey confidence in the message that you are delivering and adds a level of impact.

Tip:      Once again, having an agenda or checklist can help you to stay on track when delivering a verbal message. If you do not want to have it on display when talking to someone, review the key points prior to meeting or speaking with the person. When communicating in writing, always review the message and delete any unnecessary words or sentences before sending.


Your message should show consideration for your audience. A considerate message takes into account how the recipient is going to feel when reading or hearing the message, and shows empathy and understanding. It also takes into consideration what information or knowledge the recipient might or might not have. In today’s global environment, it is also important to take into consideration cultural differences when composing your message. For example, in some cultures it is appropriate to address the older male in a group in the first instance as a sign of respect.

Tip:      Before delivering a message, think about your audience and how they might react. To achieve the best possible outcome, consider their background, education, culture, knowledge and previous dealings with you.


When communicating, you should be clear about your purpose or goal. You should be clear on the reasons why you are communicating with this person so you save time and reach a satisfying conclusion. If you are unsure, then the other person will also be unsure.

Tip:      Prior to delivering any message, it is important to be clear in your own mind on the intended outcome. Ask yourself what a successful outcome looks like. This level of clarity will allow you to construct your message in such a way that what you need is clear to the message recipient.


A concrete message shows a level of confidence and certainty. A concrete message uses clear and factual language, and you will often see the message backed up with solid evidence. A concrete message is rarely misunderstood as it is delivered in a very clear, concise and confident manner.

Tip:      Look for facts, figures and evidence that will back up your message.


A courteous message is open, honest and accurately reflects the sender’s feelings. It does not contain any hidden agendas or passive-aggressive undertones. A courteous message takes the recipient’s feelings into consideration and shows empathy for their situation.

Tip:      If you need to deliver a difficult message, consider delivering it in person rather than in writing. It can be difficult to accurately convey your empathy in writing, and it is easier to ensure you have mutual understanding. If you are delivering the message in writing, always pause before pushing send. Take some time to review the message or get someone else to proof read it for you to ensure that your message is conveyed in a courteous manner.


A correct message conveys truth and accurate information, and is free from errors and mistakes. It is also well-timed and uses language that is appropriate to the audience. A correct message will always have a greater impact on the recipients and can assist in building long-term relationships through establishing a high level of trust between parties.

Tip: Always double-check your message before sending them. Check for spelling and grammar, and most importantly always check the spelling of the recipient’s name. Think about your audience and ensure that the language is appropriate to their knowledge and the circumstances. Finally, think about the timing of the message to ensure it is delivered at the most appropriate time to ensure the most positive response.

Keep in Mind

Over time there have been a number of other C’s added to various published lists and guidelines. Here are a couple of additional points we believe are worth taking into consideration.

Credibility – do you have the credibility to successfully deliver the message or can you use the message to help develop it? Without sufficient credibility, your message will lose its impact and will be less likely to elicit a positive response.

Channel – with so many communication channels available to us today, it is essential that you choose the most appropriate one for your message. Too often people will use email when picking up the phone or speaking to a person would be much more effective and appropriate.


Using the seven C’s as a checklist will help to ensure your communication is highly effective.

Learning to communicate more effectively will help you in both your business and personal life. We have a number of other learning articles on the website that you will find helpful, including a guide to improving your listening skills.[/wlm_ismember]

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