Triple What Communication Model

Triple What Communication Model


Get the message across effectively.

Getting your message across effectively in any situation is critical. In business, it directly impacts the success of your communication. When consulting for a multi-state engineering firm, I worked with their internal SWAT team and discovered a simple, direct, and effective communications model applicable to most companies’ communications, both internal and external.

As the lead on the internal communications piece, I took on the tasked of achieving all three elements (simple, direct, and effective) for not only the company’s internal communications rollout but also their ongoing communications with employees. As is often the case with developing effective communication (or marketing or advertising, insert your discipline) message, an overwhelming amount of information was included, making it extremely challenging to separate the critical information from the superfluous.

Normally I use the Five W’s, an industry standard in journalism and research for developing and framing messages. The Five W’s are questions which, when answered, constitute the formula for complete information needed to build and communicate a message or story. While extremely effective, the Five W’s model still leaves the door open for a lengthy exposition.

  1. Who
  2. What
  3. Where
  4. When
  5. Why


So What?

In communications, simplicity is efficiency and directness is effectiveness. 

While working with the SWAT team, I learned that the internal audience(s) were on the extreme end of requiring simple, direct, and effective messages. This was a result of the volume, frequency, and extensive length of company information communicated historically.

Now What?

The Triple What Communication Model:

  1. What?
  2. So What?
  3. Now What?

Quite literally a three-step process, the Triple What Model captures the critical information concisely for effective communication: what is important, why it is important to the recipient, and what action you want the recipient to take.

The Triple What Model acts in much the same way a 30-second elevator pitch or a 140-character tweet forces us to craft our message and get to the point quickly, simply, and directly in order to be effective.

The Triple What Model is effective communication.

This model is not new, and its application extends beyond communications, marketing, and advertising. I have since seen it applied in marketing, IT and even education.

The Triple What Model is by definition classic and basic. As professionals across all disciplines and industries, let’s get back to basics and use a classic.