Everyone today is used to things happening at a point and click rate. Swiping their finger, passing by potentially important information, stopping long enough to get a glimpse then moving on to the eye candy and video. We are at a point where no one wants to spend time reading long emails, long social posts (much like this one) and even long text messages. These are the signs that we are heading towards a critical era in how we communicate.
Because everyone needs to understand the best and worst ways we engage in digital communication. How to make sure your intended message is read and understood. How to make sure the information you are receiving is indeed true and how it is making an impact on your everyday life.
Has this ever happened to you in the workplace?
** Please note that this is a software or digital content development example because that is what I am familiar with, but can happen in almost any business.
Your team is towards the end of your project’s life cycle and you’re pushing to get the product into test. Deadlines hover over your head like a bad storm coming in. Your blood pressure is up a bit, but that’s ok, you can handle it. Its time to delegate if you are ever going to get this out the door and keep your supervisor’s happy and job intact. So… you crack your laptop and start to write the most awe-inspiring email to your colleague to block out tasks. You skim over your email and sorta’ proof read and hit send. You get up to stretch, pat yourself on the back… Boom! You are so proud of yourself for saving the day. Briefly you ponder, hmmm, maybe I should’ve spent more time proof reading that, nahhh.. I’m good.
But are you?
A work day goes by and nothing is happening. You start to wonder if your colleague got your email. You sit back down to make sure your email is even working. You send a test email to yourself. Yup, that came in… hmmm. You look out your office window and it looks like business as usual. You think to yourself, why isn’t your colleague as stressed out as you are? There should be a lot more commotion going on over there. You go back to your email to check your sent box to re-review your email and bam, there it is…
You were typing so fast that by accident you put “I will talk to Jane Doe about” when you meant to say “talk to Jane Doe about”. Two lousy words and now a whole day has gone by (and in the software development world that is a crucial amount of time) and the communication process has broken down and all forward motion on the project has come to a screeching halt.
Here are some steps that can be taken to insure that breakdown never occurs.
Proof read! Proof read! Proof read!
Ok, perhaps it is because my Mother was an English teacher and those magical words were drilled into my head at an early age. Perhaps I am a bit meticulous, either way, did I say proof read yet cus’ I meant proof read!!! Not just in a software environment but this applies to all communication on the Interglobe’
There is a huge difference between ‘would have’ and ‘would not have’. Did you say something in plural when you meant singular? Did you dot your ‘i’s and cross your ‘t’s? Articulating correctly your meaning with digital communication is hard enough without missing the little things that can change the whole perspective or temperament of your message. Remember, facial expression are not a luxury to fall back on in cyber world. But no worries, a lot of these things can be found by simply proof reading a number of times before sending.
Fix spelling errors and watch your grammar!
Your, you’re, there, their, would, would’ve… these words and many more, need to be spelled correctly if your message is going to get any respect. Not a ground breaking mistake, but any grammar or spelling errors can be misleading as to how serious you are or where geographically (wow, big word) you are writing from.
What platform is this communication coming in digital communication?
There are differences between being able to communicate fully in an email and the more preferred way of text messaging for quick text/response action. When writing an email, one can elaborate on certain points more thoroughly. When texting, people tend to get aggravated if you ‘blow up their phone’ with long drawn out texts. Texting is also inventing new words and forms of communication everyday. No one wants to lose their end user’s attention, so quick texts filled with shortened words can be confusing at times so make sure you have your text messaging protocol down.
Who is my audience?
In this case, my focus is LinkedIn which is a business oriented social media platform. The people reading it probably are looking for information. Something to read while they are drinking their morning coffee. The people who use LinkedIn are looking for information and will take the time to read through my “20 Cents” and find some value by doing so. Know who you are communicating with when you email, text or post. Is the recipient a person that likes a ‘quick update note’ or ‘text and move on’ kind of person or is this person going to want details and more data? My assumption is that whoever is reading this wants details.
Does it need to be thinned down?
Is it losing their attention? Is it emphasizing your need right up front? You can’t expect a ‘quick update’ person to read past the first paragraph so don’t wait until the end to make your point. This brain of mine, like a lot of people, is constantly multitasking and has a lot of info from over the span of my career stuffed into it. So when I start typing it is like a brain dump. Sometimes its hard to stop the flow, so I just start typing and when done I go back and start to thin it down to make sure I stay focused.
Finally, will the recipient understand what you are trying to get across?
Tech speak can drive the average end user to tears. I am not saying talk down to the person but don’t bother using words like ‘Search Engine Optimization’ or ‘Bootstrap’ unless you know if the person is going to understand or not. Remember, the person on the other end of the conversation is most likely just as busy as you. I have had clients tell me that they “don’t want to know what that means, that’s why I hired you” and then there are those clients that want to know everything.
So, do you understand what I’m trying to get across? Is this article the appropriate length? Did it keep your attention? I should hope so, I proof read it about 50 times!!