Effective Communication


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Internal training presentation for new employees about how to communicate more effectively in presentations, documents, emails, and IM

Published in: Technology, Education
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Effective Communication

  1. Effective Communication
  2. Today’s Agenda Writing and designing documents Using IM at work Creating effective presentations Sending and replying to email
  3. User Centered Writing <ul><li>Think about your audience </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Who are your readers? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What are their preferences for style, tone, format, length? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What do you know about their environment and where they’ll read? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What questions do your readers bring to the document? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Tailor your message for your readers </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Imagine them reading your document </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Respond to their questions </li></ul></ul>Assume your reader is busy and just wants the facts
  4. How To Write Good <ul><li>Don’t try to sound smart, try to make sense </li></ul><ul><ul><li>There has been a decision that we will proceed with haste. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Let’s go! </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Change nominalizations into agents with active verbs </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The agency conducted an investigation into the matter. There is no need for further study of this problem. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The agency investigated the matter. We do not need to study this problem further. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Delete unnecessary words and phrases </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Productivity actually depends on certain factors that involve basic psychology more than on any particular technology </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Productivity depends more on psychology than technology </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>We must explain the reason for the delay in the meeting </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>We must explain why the meeting was delayed </li></ul></ul>
  5. Consistency, Consistency, Uniformity <ul><li>Consistent styles and formatting </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Keep the width of indentations the same (don’t tab all over the page) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Don’t change type size and style (except to communicate hierarchy) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Don’t change font within documents </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Consistent capitalization </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Sentence case capitalizes the first word </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Title Case Capitalizes Every Word </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Shift + F3 toggles quickly between them </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Consistent (and parallel) bullet points </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Start each point in the series with either a noun or an action verb </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Don’t add periods at the end unless they are full sentences </li></ul></ul>
  6. Document Styles <ul><li>Set up heading styles to make formatting consistent </li></ul><ul><li>Styles mapped to keystrokes makes it easy to style text </li></ul>
  7. Spelling and Spell Check <ul><li>Spell words out fully </li></ul><ul><ul><li>I dunno y, but plz spell it out, k? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>I don’t know why, but please spell words out, okay? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Spell check your own documents and emails </li></ul>
  8. Writing Pet Peeves <ul><li>Use of quotation marks </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The phrase user personas are a “best practice” in the field of web design doesn't make the words “best practice” seem more important. It makes it sound like you're lying. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Use of And </li></ul><ul><ul><li>You can use the word and to begin a sentence... but it had better be a really good sentence. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Using exclamation points </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Don’t over-emote, PUHLEAAAZZEEE!!!! </li></ul></ul>
  9. Today’s Agenda Sending and replying to email
  10. Emailing Clients <ul><li>How to email someone for the first time: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Don't assume that they know you, or care to know you </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Write a one-line introduction setting the context, introducing yourself, and explaining your role </li></ul></ul><ul><li>How to structure an email requesting a decision: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>State the topic briefly </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Explain the issue </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>State pros/cons </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Give a recommendation with rationale </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Provide guidance on when you need the answer </li></ul></ul>If you are sending an email to executives, make it brief
  11. Subject Lines <ul><li>Should state the subject of the email </li></ul>You can edit the subject line of someone else’s email if you want to save it  Don’t continue replying to an old email thread without changing the subject line 
  12. Formatting in emails <ul><li>You can set Word to be your default email editor </li></ul>Don’t over-format Formatting can be used to break up the text
  13. Font in Emails <ul><li>True or False? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>I do creative work for a creative company, so a good place to express my creativity is in the font I choose for my emails </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>False </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Use Arial 10 Point for body text </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Not Verdana , Trebuchet , and especially not Comic Sans </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Don’t emphasize too much </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Please, no more BOLD ITALIC UNDERLINE ALL CAPS </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>If you want to emphasize, do it sparingly with bold </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Don’t write emails in ALL CAPS </li></ul><ul><ul><li>IT MAKES IT SOUND LIKE YOU’RE YELLING </li></ul></ul>
  14. Length of emails <ul><li>Break emails up into short sentences and short paragraphs </li></ul><ul><li>If the message takes more than couple of paragraphs to communicate, pick up the phone or call a meeting </li></ul>No Yes
  15. Reply or Reply All? <ul><li>Limit use of reply all in emails </li></ul>Move the reply all button to the other side of the toolbar (to prevent unfortunate incidents from occurring)
  16. Don’t Be A Jerk <ul><li>Review your tone before you send: </li></ul><ul><li>Be careful what you say when you write: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Stay away from analogies, expressions or jokes on sensitive topics (politics, religion, etc.) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Sarcasm is next to impossible to convey via the written word, especially emails and IM. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Keep in mind that some lazy person will unintentionally forward your nasty email to the person you're calling an idiot. </li></ul></ul>No Yes
  17. Mailing List Etiquette <ul><li>You are a member of various office and department mailing lists </li></ul><ul><li>It’s okay to email these lists with a question, but… </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Use the Outlook Address Book to choose the correct list </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Send to specific offices or departments rather than spamming the entire company </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Specify if you want the replies to go to you or the whole list </li></ul></ul>Do not spam the list with requests to be removed, or with complaints about the list
  18. Today’s Agenda Creating effective presentations
  19. Planning <ul><li>Determine what question you need to answer , or what the client needs to get out of the presentation </li></ul><ul><li>Write an outline in Word for long, complex presentations </li></ul>
  20. Font in Presentations <ul><li>Presentations must be readable from 10 feet away </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Make sure the font is not too small or too light </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Assume the client’s projector will suck </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Arial is the preferred typeface </li></ul><ul><li>You can use other fonts if: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>You are a designer </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A production designer formats the deck </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The client style guide requires a different typeface </li></ul></ul>24-36 pt 18-24 pt
  21. Images <ul><li>Images should be used to make the presentation more visually interesting (when screenshots or diagrams are not appropriate.) </li></ul><ul><li>Our presentations use well-styled photography chosen from image database sites </li></ul>Don’t recycle images without first considering your audience No Yes
  22. Screenshots <ul><li>Take good quality screenshots using Snag-it </li></ul><ul><li>Use alignment tools so images are orderly </li></ul>
  23. Builds and Animations <ul><li>Builds should be used to communicate meaning or to focus the viewer’s attention, not for comedic effect </li></ul>Use appear for builds, not one of the swoopy options Slide transitions are not recommended
  24. Anatomy of a Slide <ul><li>Three basic types of slides form the foundation of every presentation: </li></ul>Divider Slides Bulleted Slides Titles & Master Slides
  25. Anatomy of title and master slides <ul><li>Use an AA|RF template or a template created for your client </li></ul><ul><li>Include the client’s logo </li></ul><ul><li>Update the date and contact information </li></ul><ul><li>Set up master slides for consistent formatting </li></ul><ul><li>Work with the template and follow the slide layout styles </li></ul><ul><li>Try to work within the outline structure </li></ul>
  26. Anatomy of divider slides <ul><li>Agenda slides or section dividers: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Act like “signposts” telling the client what to expect and where they’re at in the presentation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Length and complexity of sections reflects their importance </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Rules of thumb for divider slides: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Any deck longer than 15 pages or so should include dividers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Each section should be at least 5-7 slides (don’t have sections of only 1-2 slides) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Use color or shading to highlight the current section of the agenda </li></ul></ul>
  27. Anatomy of a bullet point slide <ul><li>Slide Title </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Tells the audience why the slide is important – what’s the point? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ties the slide into the overall flow of the deck and gives context for new information </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Titles should use nouns or active verbs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>not “there is” or “it was” </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Titles should use consistent capitalization </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Sentence case or Title Case </li></ul></ul></ul>
  28. Anatomy of a bullet point slide <ul><li>Slide Body </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Don’t make too many points </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>More slides is better than dense slides </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Don’t use too many words </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>High ink-to-value ratio </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Consistency is key </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Begin each bullet with the same type of word, ideally an action verb </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Use the same capitalization style throughout </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>If you end one with a period, end all of them with a period </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Highlighting with bold can help draw attention </li></ul></ul>
  29. Anatomy of a bullet point slide <ul><li>Takeaway box </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Bounded box at the bottom of the slide </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Draws a conclusion that can only be made after reading the body of the slide </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Emphasizes a point – so what? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Provides transition to the next slide – where do we go from here? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Use sparingly, otherwise the emphasis is lost </li></ul></ul>
  30. Anatomy of a Diagram <ul><li>Some of the diagrams you may encounter in the wild </li></ul>Venn Diagram Process Flow Four Square Screenshot with callouts Comparison Chart Trend Chart
  31. Screenshot with callouts <ul><li>Use callouts to draw attention to specific areas of the page </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Use pointers and text to reference specific areas </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Try to align the text so it looks neat </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Or, use numbers to reference areas of the screen </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Use screenshots that fill the entire page if callouts aren’t needed </li></ul>
  32. Four Square <ul><li>Four squares show relationships along two axes </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Emphasize where a point falls on the axis </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Focus on which quadrant a point falls in </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Show progression (always to upper right) </li></ul></ul>
  33. Venn Diagram <ul><li>Venn diagrams show relationships between entities </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Focus on overlap between two things </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Show mutual exclusion of things </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Sometimes, just things shown in circles for visual interest </li></ul></ul>
  34. Process Flow <ul><li>Process flows show a sequential relationship </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Present steps in a series </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Illustrated with circles, squares, or chevrons </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Usually linear, but sometimes show a circular process that repeats itself </li></ul></ul>
  35. Other Charts <ul><li>Information can sometimes be presented in a table more easily </li></ul><ul><li>Comparison charts </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Show relationships among many categories </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Can be coded with shading or with circles </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Trend charts </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Show movement and direction </li></ul></ul>Comparison Chart Trend Chart
  36. Review your slides <ul><li>Consider your client’s communication style and attention span – have you said too much or too little? </li></ul><ul><li>How does each slide contribute to the overall story ? </li></ul><ul><li>Does the client need to know what’s on each slide? </li></ul><ul><li>Is the point of the slide clear from reading the title? </li></ul><ul><li>Are the title and the body clearly connected ? </li></ul><ul><li>Is the body of the slide easy to read or understand? </li></ul><ul><li>Is there a clear “ so what? ” for the client? </li></ul>
  37. QA your slides <ul><li>Make sure there are no mistakes </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Read for typos </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Run spell check </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Clients notice errors! </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Be internally consistent in structure, formatting, and style </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Are all the bullet points parallel? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Is capitalization style consistent? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Have you followed the template formatting? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Are all the graphics neatly aligned? </li></ul></ul>Be extra careful if you are repurposing slides from another client or pitch
  38. PowerPoint Tips <ul><li>Get to the punch line (fast!) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Less is more in presentations – people retain little of what they hear </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>It's better to present three things well than nine things poorly </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Executives are less interested in the details of the methodology </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Put the detail in an appendix for people who are interested </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Take most of the bullet points off your slides and put them in the notes section </li></ul><ul><ul><li>This does mean that you need to know what you are talking about when you present! </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Use the notes function to create a leave-behind document </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Focus the presentation on your delivery and on images </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Summarize your points for later reading </li></ul></ul>
  39. Document Production <ul><li>Book time in advance for a production designer to format your presentation, if needed </li></ul><ul><li>Alert office services in advance if you need presentations printed and bound – leave enough time </li></ul>
  40. Today’s Agenda Using IM at work
  41. Appropriate IM handles <ul><li>Which of these are appropriate IM names to use when communicating with a client? </li></ul>IAmDrunkAllTheTime LisaSteinRF YourMother HarryP10011 JGordonNY ATCooperman AmputeeBoy SnotGrobbin Carlisle95 HamsterPantz Anderson1970 BellBottom69 Consider different names for work and personal use
  42. IMing Tips <ul><li>IM is OK to do on conference calls, but pay attention </li></ul><ul><li>Be very careful when IMing with clients! </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Don’t get lulled into a false sense of unprofessionalism </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Don’t accidentally send a message to the wrong window </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Spell out all words </li></ul></ul>
  43. Conclusion
  44. The Medium for the Message <ul><li>Emails </li></ul><ul><ul><li>When you need to distribute information quickly to a large group </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>When you need to document something that has already been discussed </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>When you are trying to avoid personal contact </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>When you say something you wouldn’t say to someone’s face </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>When you need to have a back-and-forth discussion </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Phone calls or Meetings </li></ul><ul><ul><li>When the discussion is sensitive, complex, or emotional </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>When a group needs to come to a shared consensus </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>When the sound quality for the speakerphone isn’t good enough </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>When you’re doing a conference call from your cell phone </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>When there’s no clear agenda for the meeting </li></ul></ul>Good Bad
  45. The Medium for the Message <ul><li>Slides </li></ul><ul><ul><li>When you need to walk a group of people through the flow of an argument </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>When information requires a combination of text and images </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>When you will distract the meeting attendees from having a conversation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>When you risk “death-by-PowerPoint” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Documents </li></ul><ul><ul><li>When you need to present the logic of an argument more fully </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>When information is purely text and not visual at all </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>When your clients don’t read </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>When the logic of your message will be lost in the details of the text </li></ul></ul>Good Bad
  46. Thank You