by Lesley Nevills
When I first started practicing yoga, I had a lot of preconceived notions about what I could do physically. One teacher introduced me to a concept called beginner’s mind where you let go of assumptions and open yourself up to learning new ways of doing things. For example, the first time I tried to do a handstand, I worried that I didn’t have enough upper body strength to hold the pose. When I approached the handstand with a beginner’s mind, I let go of fear and followed my teacher’s instructions step by step. Before I knew it, I was doing a handstand.
We can learn a lot by adopting a similar approach to our writing. By questioning assumptions about what you can say and what your readers need, your writing is more likely to be clear, concise and persuasive.
Here are some tips to help you apply the beginner’s mind to your writing: Read more →
by Sarah Maloney
Howsitgoin? Wanna grabba cuppa coffee? Have you heard colleagues speak this way? Have you spoken this way? Probably, we all have. Let’s step back for a moment and ask ourselves: what is our first impression of the speaker? Let’s put these casual contractions under a corporate magnifying glass.
As communication skills consultants, we work consistently with our learners to help them improve their professional images through their business communications. Recently, we’ve noticed that many of them are sabotaging their professional images when delivering presentations by using “informal contractions”.
We aren’t talking about contractions like “don’t” for do not or “we’ll” for we will. When you use a few of these contractions in your speech or your writing, you sound quite personable. However, some contractions can make you sound sloppy and unprofessional—like these examples:
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by guest blogger Siobhan Brown, Program Director at TidalShift Inc.
According to renowned change guru, John Kotter (2012), 70% of change initiatives in organizations and businesses fail. One of the major obstacles that hinder the overall success of change management programs is ineffective communications. This is partially due to lack of communication. When you are leading a change, you live, breathe and may even dream about the change. You are so engrossed by the change that you may feel it is not necessary to keep repeating it. However, the reality is, you cannot “over communicate” the change. When people don’t know what’s happening, what’s expected, or even why the change is occurring in the first place, they will likely make up the reasons—and their stories are usually far worse than the truth.
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by Amanda Bergen
In this digital age, video is king. It promises a more engaged audience and faster, more effective delivery of your message. But are you and your team making the best use of video capabilities when you turn on your webcams? Surveys and statistics show that most employees are allergic to their webcams, but if they use video conferencing effectively when communicating virtually, they can increase engagement, build trust, and speed up decision making. It’s not enough to know how to turn the webcam on—you also need to develop a new skill set to present yourself, and your ideas, in the best possible way. After all, if it came naturally we would all be vying for the anchor desk on Good Morning America.
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By Lesley Nevills
Yoga can help you polish your presentation skills. If you practice yoga, you probably know that the lessons you learn on the mat can enrich your everyday life. They can help you learn and improve other skills, such as giving presentations. Here is some yoga wisdom to help you still your mind and body so you can present with confidence, ease and intention.
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by Alan De Back
With the start of the new year, many people decide that the time is right for a job change. Because the market is so crowded with job seekers, you need to distinguish yourself from the competition during the interview process. In addition to preparing for possible questions, how will you use all the skills in your communication toolbox? Here are four job interview tips that will give you an edge.
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Our friends over at Litcom are doing some interesting work, helping their clients get the most out of their data. If you feel your organization could take advantage of a tool that helps you present decision makers with simple visualizations showing the relationships among data from different systems, please share this blog with your colleagues in Marketing or Information Technology (IT).
by guest blogger Steve Litwin from Litcom
It’s no secret that data is one of today’s most valuable business assets, and organizations collect a seemingly infinite amount of it. The challenge, however, is that much of that information remains isolated in individual systems: your sales and marketing data resides in your CRM (customer relationship management system), your ERP (enterprise resource planning system) tracks your supply chain and inventory, your financial system tracks the flow of money and creates statements. With this kind of partitioning, it’s tough to put data to work and find meaningful trends across systems to help management make the best decisions.
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by Leigh Geraghty
When asked about their business writing challenges, many of our workshop participants say they have trouble with the tone of their message. Tone is how you describe the emotional quality of writing. It reflects the writer’s attitude towards the reader, and affects how the reader will respond. Writers tend to put a lot of effort into sounding competent and professional, but aren’t always sure how to create a positive tone.
Three choices for tone
When it comes to tone, you have three choices: positive, negative or neutral.
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by Jody Bruner
Holiday season is about to begin, and we will all soon be enjoying some vacation time. But with the exception of statutory holidays, business carries on, and your business associates need to know if and when you’re available. In our Email Essentials workshop, we teach you how to use your out of office notification effectively to communicate your absence any time you’re away. This helps you manage expectations and helps your clients and colleagues avoid the frustration of expecting a quick response while you’re away. If your autoresponder is clear, complete, and gives your readers the information they need, they will be grateful.
What information should you include in your out of office email? This depends on your role in the company and the industry you’re in. Consider these ideas when you think about what your network needs to know:
- The dates of your absence, and especially the date of your return. I always appreciate it if the writer spells out the dates (I’ll return Tuesday, January 3rd instead of 01/03/17). Be precise—avoid saying you’ll be gone for two weeks or returning next Monday. Instead, say you’ll return on January 3rd.
- Who to contact for an urgent matter. An out of office message might offer contact information for someone who can handle an emergency in your absence. This gives a sender with an urgent issue the ability to move forward. If you work in a large company and have a few staff members on your team handling different areas, include a list of relevant names, email addresses and phone numbers.
- If you’ll be checking your inbox. Let people know if and how frequently you’ll be checking email (once a week, once a day, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, etc.) and when they can expect a response to urgent requests. Of course, this means you have to follow through as promised.
- The reason for your absence. This isn’t always necessary, but it might be a good idea to let people know if you’re on vacation or on a business trip. If you’re at a conference or taking a course to improve yourself by building skills or knowledge, explaining this in your out of office message only builds your credibility.
- Make sure your message is complete, concise and correct. Use white space and bullets if needed. I always appreciate being able to quickly scan a message to find the information I’m looking for.
Here are some examples:
I will be away until Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017.
I’ll be checking email occasionally and will have limited ability to respond. If this is an urgent matter, please contact Jane Smith at email@example.com (222 333-4445)
Have a wonderful holiday season.
Thanks for your note.
I’m away at a plain language conference from Monday, November 28th to Friday, December 2nd. I will respond to your email when I’m back on Monday, December 5th.
If you’d like to speak to someone right away, please contact Francine Melody at 222 333-4444.
While we’re on the topic of vacation alerts, our office is gearing up to slow down for the holidays. Wavelength offices will be closing on Tuesday, December 27th and opening again on Tuesday, January 3rd.
Have a great holiday season and a happy New Year!
by Jody Bruner
Technical writers often find themselves needing to make important recommendations to clients or business readers who have little or no technical knowledge. Being able to get through to a non-technical audience is crucial because you need them to quickly make the right decisions for the right reasons. Missing the mark can derail important projects, hinder progress and erode your credibility.
The secret to communicating with your non-technical audience is having a deep understanding of their needs and prior knowledge, and using this knowledge to plan your message strategically. Knowing your audience helps you satisfy their needs without compromising the integrity of your message.
The following questions come from our Writing Technical Reports workshop’s Situational Analysis. It’s a tool for analyzing your purpose, audience and context as you create your message.
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