Getting Your Message Across: Communications Skills for Testers

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Communication is at the heart of our profession. No matter how advanced our testing capabilities are, if we can’t convey our concerns in ways that connect with key members of the project team, our contribution is likely to be ignored. Because we act solely in an advisory capacity, rather than being in command, our power to exert influence is almost entirely based on our communication skills. With people deluged with emails and suffering information overload, it is more important than ever that we craft succinct and effective messages, using a range of communication modalities. Join Thomas McCoy as he draws on techniques from journalism, public relations, professional writing, psychology, and marketing to help you get your message across. Key themes include: non-verbal communication, presentation skills, persuasive writing, influencing skills, graphic communication, and communicating in teams and meetings. A range of hands-on exercises will be used to practice the concepts being discussed.

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Getting Your Message Across: Communications Skills for Testers

  1. 1. TQ Half-day Tutorials 5/6/2014 1:00:00 PM Getting Your Message Across: Communications Skills for Testers Presented by: Thomas McCoy Australian Department of Social Services Brought to you by: 340 Corporate Way, Suite 300, Orange Park, FL 32073 888-268-8770 ∙ 904-278-0524 ∙ sqeinfo@sqe.com ∙ www.sqe.com
  2. 2. Thomas McCoy Australian Department of Social Services Australian software testing professional, teacher, and journalist Thomas McCoy has worked in the IT industry for more than two decades. Much of this time was spent as a software developer and IT manager with Australian government agencies. Wanting to make a greater contribution to software quality, Thomas re-oriented his career into the emerging discipline of software testing and has been an enthusiastic promoter of the profession ever since. At conferences in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Asia, and the United States, Thomas is a popular keynote speaker, who has received several best presentation awards. You can reach Thomas attom@thomasmccoy.com.au.
  3. 3. STAR East 2014 Getting Your Message Across 1 GettingYour Message Across Thomas McCoy BJourn, BSc, DipEd, MInfTech Canberra, Australia STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 1 Topics • Introduction • CommunicationChallenges • Group Communication • Writing • Questioning • Persuasion • Oral Communication • The Future and Social Media • Summary and Key Points STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 2
  4. 4. STAR East 2014 Getting Your Message Across 2 Introduction STAR East 2014 3Version 1.0 STAR East 2014 4 “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” George Bernard Shaw Irish playwright (1856 – 1950) Version 1.0
  5. 5. STAR East 2014 Getting Your Message Across 3 Is communication within a testing context especially challenging? • Review role • Lacking power • Pressured environment • Held to higher standards • Extreme technical complexity • Nobody likes bad news STAR East 2014 5Version 1.0 Communication Challenges STAR East 2014 6Version 1.0
  6. 6. STAR East 2014 Getting Your Message Across 4 Barriers RECEIVER •Denial •Cognitive dissonance •Selective perception or recall •Agenda setting SENDER •Self-censorship •Introversion STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 7 Is “more communication” always better? Sometimes the most effective communication is silence STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 8
  7. 7. STAR East 2014 Getting Your Message Across 5 Which channel? • One-on-one  personal and perhaps more honest • Group  information may flow freely but can lack commitment • Meeting  personal and can convey nonverbal and allow interaction but may be uncomfortable for shy people • Grapevine  sometimes correct and can provide advance warnings STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 9 Which channel? • Phone  immediate but can lack privacy in open plan • Voicemail  asynchronous with personal touch and can convey nonverbals • Phone or video conference  captures some nonverbals but can be impersonal • Video presentation  can be powerful (but time consuming to create) STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 10
  8. 8. STAR East 2014 Getting Your Message Across 6 Which channel? • E-mail  asynchronous, provides documentation, consistent message, fast, encourages upward communication but can look sloppy if written in haste and might not be read or taken seriously • Specialised software (e.g. JIRA, QC)  can impose discipline on content through fields • Intranet  can be updated quickly but takes time to maintain STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 11 Which channel? • Newsletter  provides regular means of communication but can be time consuming to produce • Noticeboard  can reach many people but notices can be pulled down or unread • Report  can be succinct but will people read it? STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 12
  9. 9. STAR East 2014 Getting Your Message Across 7 Which channel? • Instant Messaging  immediate but sometimes seen as a vehicle for gossip • SMS  useful for quiet messages • Theatrical Performance?  can be energising and novel but needs corporate support STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 13 Choosing a channel • Which channel will suit your message and its purpose? • What are the preferences of the receiver? • What are your preferences? • Could you use multiple channels? STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 14
  10. 10. STAR East 2014 Getting Your Message Across 8 Informal organisational communication • Sometimes called “grapevine gossip” • Often provides advance warning and insights into what is really going on • Needs to be ethical (not malicious) • Must avoid mentioning source • Can later be verified via official channels • Some research suggests “gossip” can be beneficial to organisations STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 15 Extending our reach Administrative Business Marketing Technical Finance Management Tentacled Tester STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 16
  11. 11. STAR East 2014 Getting Your Message Across 9 Sheila Chaz Bluey Kylie Ernie Tezz Molly Nicole Sidney Snowy Talisha Bazza Brian Hugo Kezza Magda Mapping the organisation STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 17 Sheila Chaz Bluey Kylie Ernie Tezz Molly Nicole Sidney Snowy Talisha Bazza Brian Hugo Kezza Magda is cousin of disagrees with got promoted over plays rugby with teaches trombone to son of Mapping the organisation RELATIONSHIPS STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 18
  12. 12. STAR East 2014 Getting Your Message Across 10 Group Communication STAR East 2014 19Version 1.0 Do we need to encourage conflict? • Harmonious groups are not always effective • Disagreements can lead to better solutions (providing the focus stays on the problem) • Of course, the corporate politics must then allow this approach (rather than punishing dissent) STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 20
  13. 13. STAR East 2014 Getting Your Message Across 11 Benefits of conflict • Release of pressure and frustration • Increased cohesiveness and motivation • New perspectives • Differences can be resolved • Change can take place STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 21 Groupthink • Happens when desire for group harmony is so great that decision making becomes dysfunctional. • Group members censor themselves and suppress dissenting views to reach a “consensus” decision without conflict. STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 22
  14. 14. STAR East 2014 Getting Your Message Across 12 STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 23 Group pressure experiment by Solomon Ash Is Line X the same length as Line A, B or C? X A B C Effective group communication • Look out for groupthink • Assertively challenge unacceptable situations (where possible) • Pay attention to verbal and non-verbal behaviour • Be aware of social loafing STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 24
  15. 15. STAR East 2014 Getting Your Message Across 13 Effective group communication • Be ready to defend yourself against accusations of “not being a team player” • Practice speaking skills, persuasion, and questioning STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 25 Professional language •control flow analysis •cyclomatic complexity •defect density •equivalence partitioning •heuristic evaluation •mutation analysis •N-switch coverage •orthogonal array •phase containment •static code analysis •vertical traceability •Wide Band Delphi STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 26 Terms like these can help to us to maintain a professional identity in the group:
  16. 16. STAR East 2014 Getting Your Message Across 14 Committees “A committee is a group that succeeds in getting something done only when it consists of three members, one of whom happens to be sick and another absent.” STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 27 Meetings • Always research and prepare well • If doing an agile stand-up, make sure you have a consistent, specific (and brief story) about what you have done and will do • If you have to give a presentation, check audiovisual tools and rehearse STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 28
  17. 17. STAR East 2014 Getting Your Message Across 15 Meetings • Ask questions to try and stay awake • Watch for nonverbal and hidden agendas • Practice listening skills • Contribute • Volunteer STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 29 Writing STAR East 2014 30Version 1.0
  18. 18. STAR East 2014 Getting Your Message Across 16 Document design • Content and high quality writing is only one aspect • Document layout is critical to getting our message across • Need headings, fonts, formats, spacing, bullet points, tables, colour, illustrations, hyperlinks and graphics STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 31 Document design • Needs entertainment value and eye candy (graph, photo or table) at least every two pages • Far too many reports remain unread • Some eye candy examples follow… STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 32
  19. 19. STAR East 2014 Getting Your Message Across 17 WordleWord Cloud of SevenTesting Principles STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 33 0 500 1000 1500 2000 Jan Feb Mar Apr Overtime Hours True Representation STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 34
  20. 20. STAR East 2014 Getting Your Message Across 18 1 10 100 1000 10000 Jan Feb Mar Apr Overtime Hours Logarithmic Scale STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 35 Jan, 200 Feb, 400 Mar, 800 Apr, 1600 Overtime Hours Irrelevant Pie Chart STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 36
  21. 21. STAR East 2014 Getting Your Message Across 19 0% 50% 100% Jan Feb Mar Apr Jan, 200 Feb, 400 Mar, 800 Apr, 1600 Overtime Hours Meaningless 100% Stacked Horizontal Cone Chart STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 37 E-mail • Choose a meaningful subject line (that may be all they read) • Don’t cc anybody who doesn’t need to be involved • Never use bcc • Don’t flame • Might talking to them be better? STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 38
  22. 22. STAR East 2014 Getting Your Message Across 20 Subject lines Useless Useful Defect found Defect found in time conversion routine for zones in Oceania Meeting Team discussion, Room 3, 10am thisThursday (May 8) <EOM> Testing status Testing status: 95% complete STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 39 E-mail body • Try to avoid going longer than a screen full (but often not possible) • Separate paragraphs with blank lines • Use headings, sub headings, and bullet points • Run spell and grammar checks and proof read before sending STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 40
  23. 23. STAR East 2014 Getting Your Message Across 21 STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 41 Meaningful subject line Attachment First par summarises purpose of e-mail Background Further info Corporate signature block White space, semi- formal style, and bullet points used Content in decreasing importance Why do I only ever see my bugs in “Sent Mail”? • Always check that attachments are included before sending • Have the computer read you the message first STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 42
  24. 24. STAR East 2014 Getting Your Message Across 22 How quickly should I reply? • Not too quickly (but taking urgency into account) • If every message gets a response within 5 minutes it can create the impression of insufficient work • On the other hand, if it will take days to reply, at least send an “I’m working on it” acknowledgement STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 43 Hope I get another e-mail soon Spelling and Grammar “It is impossible at the present juncture to teach English grammar in the schools for the simple reason that no-one knows exactly what it is.” British Board of Education committee 1921 STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 44
  25. 25. STAR East 2014 Getting Your Message Across 23 Spelling and Grammar • Not worth obsessing over but blatant mistakes can damage our credibility • So, it is in our professional interest to avoid the most common errors • Spelling and grammar checkers can not (yet) find them all STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 45 Candidate for a Pullet Surprise by Jerry Zar I have a spelling checker. It came with my PC. It plane lee marks four my revue Miss steaks aye can knot sea. Eye ran this poem threw it, Your sure reel glad two no. Its vary polished in it’s weigh. My checker tolled me sew. A checker is a bless sing, It freeze yew lodes of thyme. It helps me right awl stiles two reed, And aides me when aye rime. Each frays come posed up on my screen Eye trussed too bee a joule. The checker pours o’er every word To cheque sum spelling rule. Bee fore a veiling checkers Hour spelling mite decline, And if we’re lacks oar have a laps, We wood bee maid too wine. Butt now bee cause my spelling Is checked with such grate flare, Their are know faults with in my cite, Of nun eye am a wear. Now spelling does knot phase me, It does knot bring a tier. My pay purrs awl due glad den With wrapped words fare as hear. To rite with care is quite a feet Of witch won should bee proud, And wee mussed dew the best wee can, Sew flaws are knot aloud. Sow ewe can sea why aye dew prays Such soft wear four pea seas, And why eye brake in two averse Buy righting want too pleas. Source: Zar (1994) STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 46
  26. 26. STAR East 2014 Getting Your Message Across 24 George Orwell’s writing advice •Never use a long word when a short one will do. •If it is possible to cut out a word, do it. •Never use the passive voice when you can use the active. •Break any of these rules sooner than saying anything outright barbarous. STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 47 Active vs. PassiveVoice Active Passive with nobody to blame Passive Dingo introduced a defect into the code. A defect was introduced into the code. A defect was introduced into the code by Dingo. Wozza will cut back on overtime. Overtime will be cut back. Overtime will be cut back by Wozza. Jacko added banana lounges to daily standups. Banana lounges were added to daily standups. Banana lounges were added to daily standups by Jacko. STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 48
  27. 27. STAR East 2014 Getting Your Message Across 25 Removing unnecessary words Before After absolutely essential essential completely surrounded end result equal halves forward planning in conjunction with look back in retrospect pair of twins STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 49 These are all “tautologies” Removing unnecessary words Before After arrive at a conclusion conclude conduct an investigation deliver a recommendation lodge an objection make a decision put in jeopardy show a preference for perform a diagnosis STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 50 These are all “nominalisations”
  28. 28. STAR East 2014 Getting Your Message Across 26 Removing unnecessary words Before After a high degree of much afford an opportunity to as a consequence of during the month of May not infrequently it is incumbent on you on two separate occasions with the minimum of delay STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 51 These are all “circumlocutions” STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 52 Seven common mistakes
  29. 29. STAR East 2014 Getting Your Message Across 27 Complement or Compliment? • He paid her the ________ of saying her test plan was outstanding • We now have a full ________ of experienced performance testers • The writing in the report was ________ by excellent graphics STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 53 Criteria or Criterion? • Previous testing experience is the most important ________ we are looking at for this recruitment • How should these be numbered in a job statement:  Criteri__ 1: possess relevant qualifications  Criteri__ 2: knowledge of Quality Center  Etc. STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 54
  30. 30. STAR East 2014 Getting Your Message Across 28 Effect or Affect? • The long hours ________ her ability to find bugs • The long hours had the ________ of reducing her efficiency • She ________ her escape from weekend work by citing family responsibilities STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 55 It’s or its? • The company was developing ____ staff • ____ lucky that we tested that condition STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 56
  31. 31. STAR East 2014 Getting Your Message Across 29 Principle or Principal? • The ________ concern in this project is the risk of slippage • In ________ I agree with the approach we are taking • The ________ negotiator from the vendor team is hard to deal with STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 57 There orThey’re orTheir? • ________ going to help us test tonight • It’s ________ system so they must clarify the requirements • ________ flying ________ in ________ private jet this weekend STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 58
  32. 32. STAR East 2014 Getting Your Message Across 30 Two orTo orToo? • They excitedly marched ____ the retrospective • Tezz came along ____ • But only ____ people from the user group turned up STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 59 STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 60
  33. 33. STAR East 2014 Getting Your Message Across 31 “I keep six honest serving-men (They taught me all I knew); Their names are What and Why andWhen and How andWhere andWho” Rudyard Kipling STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 61 5Ws & 1H example • Who: Fred Nurk • What: Discovered system crashes if negative quantities entered • When: Last night • Where : Test lab • Why: Inadequate input field checking? • How: Running automated test scripts STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 62
  34. 34. STAR East 2014 Getting Your Message Across 32 The inverted pyramid Importance (signified by width) Position Top Bottom Content STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 63 An effective layout • First paragraph: summarise the situation, covering the most important aspects of who, what, when, where, why and how (this may be the only paragraph the person reads) • Next: provide background or more details • Optionally, you may want to use a “call to action” at the end STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 64
  35. 35. STAR East 2014 Getting Your Message Across 33 Example On the registration date screen February 29 is being accepted for all years, not just leap years. [Summary, covers “where” and “what”] The problem may be due to the new external date routine, which was recently implemented on this screen. (The other screens still work fine.) [More info] This could damage customer relations and create adverse publicity for the organisation and needs urgent attention. [Call to action] STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 65 Writing •Need a strong headline that will push relevant buttons in people.The “headline” might be, for example, the: summary of your defect report; or the subject line of your e-mail message •The headline may be all they read •Think about the “angle” of your message (what are you trying to achieve)? STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 66
  36. 36. STAR East 2014 Getting Your Message Across 34 Writing •Start with most important point, which should answer some of 5Ws & 1H •Secondary information later •Use Plain English •Use mix of long and short sentences •Keep paragraphs to 3 sentences max STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 67 Writing •Clichés should be avoided like the plague •Always check spelling and grammar •Write to express, not to impress •A reading level of Grade 8 is recommended STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 68
  37. 37. STAR East 2014 Getting Your Message Across 35 STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 69 Readability checker InWord 2010 do: FileTab, Options, Proofing… STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 70
  38. 38. STAR East 2014 Getting Your Message Across 36 Settings … STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 71 STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 72
  39. 39. STAR East 2014 Getting Your Message Across 37 Nuclear Physics: 15.5 grade level STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 73 Nuclear Physics & Green Eggs: 2.4 grade level STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 74
  40. 40. STAR East 2014 Getting Your Message Across 38 Readability statistics “cautions” Could get score down just by making all sentences very short. Compare: STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 75 I could not finish testing. The system went down. I could not finish testing because the system went down. Does the lower score version really communicate more effectively? Readability statistics “cautions”: • Don’t try to “write to the formula” • It doesn’t take layout into account • Not all readers are the same • Usability testing is a better method STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 76
  41. 41. STAR East 2014 Getting Your Message Across 39 Questioning STAR East 2014 77Version 1.0 Questioning allows us to: • Gather information • Bring things into the open • Let other person know we are listening and interested • Convey embedded messages • Maintain a humble demeanour (if done sensitively) STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 78
  42. 42. STAR East 2014 Getting Your Message Across 40 QuestionTypes •Direct •Rapport-building •Fact Seeking •Hypothetical •Testing •Forced-choice •Leading •Embedded message STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 79 Response option may be Open or Closed Embedded message examples Project Manager •“What percentage of test cases are we allowed to skip to meet our release date?” •Embedded message:There are serious problems with meeting our release date STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 80
  43. 43. STAR East 2014 Getting Your Message Across 41 Embedded message examples BusinessAnalyst •“I’m just wondering what happens on the payments screen if the user enters the same transaction code twice?” •Embedded message:These requirements have holes STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 81 Embedded message examples Developer •“What happens if the user types in February 29 for a non-leap year?” •Embedded message: There is a bug in the date routine STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 82
  44. 44. STAR East 2014 Getting Your Message Across 42 Questioning techniques • Start with friendly questions • Use mix of open and closed • Repeat questions if necessary • Be comfortable in being “dumb” • Use “blame others” method • Use silence to advantage STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 83 The Pause Pit • Ask question and leave pause after person gives answer • Person will then often volunteer extra information to fill the deafening silence • Often used in journalism • But don’t over-use STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 84
  45. 45. STAR East 2014 Getting Your Message Across 43 Persuasion STAR East 2014 85Version 1.0 Strong feature of our profession: • Persuading developers to fix defects • Negotiating for time and resources • May be challenging STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 86
  46. 46. STAR East 2014 Getting Your Message Across 44 Three ways of persuasion Appeal to Logic Appeal to Emotions Appeal to Credibility “As you can see, this defect is consistently reproducible in all environments.” “If this defect is not removed there could be a significant backlash in the user community, leading to weeping and emotional distress among company shareholders.” “You would be aware that the testing team’s defect detection rate is above 95%, so I have extreme confidence in their findings.” STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 87 The gentle art of persuasion 1. Get people onside through friendly interaction (long before the event) 2. Build credibility 3. Use the informal network to increase awareness of the issue and its consequences 4. Determine key motivators of major decision makers and respond to those 5. Tap into greed, vanity, fear and guilt STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 88
  47. 47. STAR East 2014 Getting Your Message Across 45 STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 89 Other persuasive techniques • Assertiveness • Ingratiation • Exchange • Mobilising support • Higher authority • Impression management STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 90
  48. 48. STAR East 2014 Getting Your Message Across 46 But being overly persuasive can: • Annoy colleagues • Cause alienation • Damage reputation (sycophancy) • Breed resistance among persuadees STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 91 Oral Communication STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 92
  49. 49. STAR East 2014 Getting Your Message Across 47 Advantages of oral delivery • Speaker controls message • Can obtain immediate feedback (including nonverbals) • Inflections and passion can be conveyed in voice • Less formal than writing • Captive audience • No record kept (usually) • Audiovisual support can be used STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 93 Defects Planning a presentation • Biggest challenge is to keep audience engaged and awake • Every 20 minutes you need an interesting story, quote, fact, statistic, image, video clip, sound etc. • Find out as much as you can about the audience in advance STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 94
  50. 50. STAR East 2014 Getting Your Message Across 48 Designing your presentation • Adjust font size to expected depth of room (normally 20 points minimum) • Not more than 6 lines per slide and 6 words per line • Not more than 40 words per slide • Not more than 40 slides • No flashy transitions or effects (unless they make a point) STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 95 Designing your presentation • Avoid excessive colour • Aim for a consistent design • Sequence slides to tell a story • Think about using props, whiteboards and flip charts STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 96 Bet you weren’t expecting to see one of these?
  51. 51. STAR East 2014 Getting Your Message Across 49 Final checks • Rehearse entire presentation:  In the venue  Dressed up  With full audio visuals  And microphone  In front of small audience (if possible)  Doing a video recording STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 97 Coping with nerves • Exercise • Yawning • Deep breathing • Meditation • Music • Water • Arrive early • Practice speaking in room to hear sound of voice • Walk around empty room • Mingle with audience • Escape (“flight” from “fight or flight”) STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 98
  52. 52. STAR East 2014 Getting Your Message Across 50 Delivering the presentation • Ensure air conditioning is low and lights are high • Check that they can hear you via lapel mic (so you can move) • Maintain eye contact and “listen with your eyes” • Be humble and show respect • Use open body language and gestures and smile STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 99 Not the best look for a presenter Delivering the presentation • Don’t read your slides • Speak clearly and vary your pace, pitch, pausing and volume • Keep head fairly still • Face the audience (not the screen) • Avoid excessive pacing • Relaxed body posture • Be ready for emergencies STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 100
  53. 53. STAR East 2014 Getting Your Message Across 51 Voice •Pitch •Pace •Pause •Projection STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 101 Practice Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers. Did Peter Piper pick a peck of pickled peppers? If Peter Piper Picked a peck of pickled peppers, Where's the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked The thoughtful tester told the troubled, tongue- tied techo that timeout targets terminated transcendent transaction threads. STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 102
  54. 54. STAR East 2014 Getting Your Message Across 52 The future: social media STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 103 To blog or not to blog? • Is social media something you are involved in now? • Or would like to become involved in at some time in the future? STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 104
  55. 55. STAR East 2014 Getting Your Message Across 53 Benefits • Showcase your work • Allows you to reach wide audience • Interactive through comments • Find people with similar interests • See things from different perspective • Can improve your writing skills • Can enhance your professional image STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 105 Costs • Enormously time consuming • Writing coherently is extremely difficult • Risk of posting in anger • Flame wars can start • Open yourself up to being insulted • Can destroy your professional image • Can damage image of your employer STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 106
  56. 56. STAR East 2014 Getting Your Message Across 54 Key Points STAR East 2014 107Version 1.0 Key Points 1 • Communication is an integral part of our role. • Through an awareness of barriers like “denial” or “selective perception”, we can work around them. • The solution to communication issues is not always more communication. • With so many communication channels available, we always need to choose one that matches our message, purpose and recipient. • Informal organisational communication, if used ethically, can be a useful source of information. • Extending our reach beyond our context, and understanding the broader organisational environment, is useful for our role. STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 108
  57. 57. STAR East 2014 Getting Your Message Across 55 Key Points 2 • Harmonious groups sometimes ineffective and may benefit from an increase in conflict. • Conflict can release pressure and lead to more creative solutions. • Groupthink is dangerous and can result from excessive group harmony. • A range of methods can be used for effective group communication. • Our professional testing terminology can help us to maintain our identity. • Committees and meetings present a range of challenges that we can work around. STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 109 Key Points 3 • Document design and layout have a big impact on our communication success. • Graphs, images, word clouds, and tables can serve as “eye candy” to keep the reader engaged. • E-mail is extensively used and abused in the workplace. • Guidelines for e-mail use and message layout can increase communication effectiveness. • Correct spelling and grammar help us look professional. • Computers cannot yet entirely check spelling and grammar. STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 110
  58. 58. STAR East 2014 Getting Your Message Across 56 Key Points 4 • George Orwell provides useful advice in terms of making communication more succinct. • Tautologies, nominalisations and circumlocutions can clutter writing. • The 5Ws & 1H from journalism and the inverted pyramid can help us to write clear messages. • TheWord Readability Checker, which provides the Flesh- Kincaid Grade Level, can be useful in evaluating writing complexity. STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 111 Key Points 5 • Effective questioning is useful for gathering information and relies on appropriate use of different question types and techniques. • Messages may be subtly embedded in questions, making them less threatening that direct statements. • The “Pause Pit” (from journalism) can be useful for gaining additional information. • Persuasion is a strong feature of our work and three main methods have been used sinceAristotle: logic, emotions or credibility. • A range of other techniques is available but we must be careful not to over-persuade. STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 112
  59. 59. STAR East 2014 Getting Your Message Across 57 Key Points 6 • Sometimes oral communication is the most effective channel because it provides greater control. • Creating an engaging presentation relies on having entertaining content embedded within the factual message. • A range of recommendations is available for designing PowerPoint slides. • Working on voice is important. • Social media allows us to blog anytime, anywhere, but is this always in our best interests? STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 113 Recommended Reading STAR East 2014 114Version 1.0
  60. 60. STAR East 2014 Getting Your Message Across 58 • Anderson, Paul 2010, Technical writing: a reader-centered approach • Brown, Rob 2009, Public relations and the social web: how to use social media and web 2.0 in communications • Cobley, Paul 2010, Communications: an introduction • DeVito, Joseph 2009, Human communication: the basic course • Flatley, Marie E & Rentz, Kathryn 2010, Business communication • Gates, Steve 2011, The negotiation book: your definitive guide to successful negotiating • Goulston, Mark 2010, Just listen: discover the secret to getting through to absolutely anyone • Grice,George L & Skinner, John F 2010, Mastering public speaking: the handbook • Hartley,Gregory & Karinch 2010, The body language handbook: how to read everyone’s hidden thoughts and intentions STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 115 • Heinrichs, Jay 2007, Thank you for arguing: what Aristotle, Lincoln and HomerSimpson can teach us about the art of persuasion • Jones,Gerald Everett 2007, How to lie with charts • Keddy, Jackie and Johnson, Clive 2011, Managing conflict at work: understanding and resolving conflict for productive working relationships • Kleiman, Jessica & Cooper, MerylWeinsaft 2011, Be your own best publicist: how to use PR techniques to get noticed, hired, and rewarded at work • Mann, Monroe & Levinson, Jay Conrad 2008, Guerilla networking: a proven battle plan to attract the very people you want to meet STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 116
  61. 61. STAR East 2014 Getting Your Message Across 59 ThankYou! An updated version of this presentation will become available on the STAR East website. For any enquiries contact: tom@thomasmccoy.com.au STAR East 2014 Version 1.0 117

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