Risk Communication is not easy. The best way I know how to communicate risk is to understand the roots of risk perception, and then to take these into account. Here are the risks that we can perceive, and the ones we can estimate. Here are the risks that we can mitigate. If we mitigate these risks, the odds of failure are x %.

There are other ways of communicating risk to be certain. Some people will criticize this approach as being “too complex”. Indeed, this approach to risk communication takes into account risk management, and bakes recommendations right into it. Typically, you could talk for 2 paragraphs before arriving at your point. Indeed, whether or not you want to start with your “x %” before diving into your reasons, or if you want to hold that back until the end, depends on the patience of your listener. Sometimes people don’t want to hear background, and have no patience for nuance. Others will want to go into great detail on each point.

In a very real way, you can take this general framework, and figure out how to communicate risk for different audiences. If you’re dealing with a manager from “The Office”, you’re going to take a very different tact than you would, say, a manager from an analytics driven organization. It depends, by and large, on your audience. The exercise though is important, and, at its core, is different from a SWOT (strength, weakness, opportunity, threat) analysis, since it tends to focus entirely on weakness and threats.

Thanks for reading. If you have questions, just reach out and contact me.