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Communicating about Change: 4 Lessons from Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show Debut

imgresThe viewing public knew a change was coming, but would they embrace the Tonight Show’s new host? Well, Jimmy Fallon increased the odds in his favor by communicating honestly and openly with his audience about the change. He explained things in detail and didn’t pretend like “nothing” was happening. Times TV critic James Poniewozik made some insightful observations about Fallon’s debut that I’ll reference here as I highlight four lessons that can help organizations communicate more effectively about change. Be specific about what’s changing and staying the same.  Fallon “very deliberately walked the audience through who he was, who his supporting stars were and what kind of show he was going to do. He literally, at one point, pretty much explained how a late-night show works, down to the fact that a host comes out from behind a curtain and tells topical jokes.” Frame to the story to make others comfortable with change. “So each introduction Fallon made was a chance to frame the story, from the beginning, in a way that could make these longtime Tonight viewers—many of them older—comfortable with him, even while he hopefully brought in new ones.” Don’t pretend to be someone you’re not. “Fallon was not going to pretend to be Leno, but he could introduce himself as a nice, approachable kid. He spotlighted his adorable parents and said he hoped they were proud of him.” Be genuine and considerate.  “And by the way, I don’t mean any of this to say that Fallon was being calculated or phony—far from it. It was all true. Fallon really does want to show people a good time; I don’t know him personally, but to all appearances he’s a good-hearted guy who takes genuine, contagious joy in his work. … And—most important—he came across humble and considerate, acknowledging that he represented a big change and asking the audience for their attention rather than demanding it.” Think about the last time you had to communicate an important change to your staff or members. Was there anything that you could have done differently – even better? Original Article
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