Business and Professional Communications

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A basic primer on business and professional communication tips, including tips for proper use of cellphones and email. Includes recommendations for personal and business etiquette.

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  • For the younger members of the audience today, this is a photo of some handwritten letters. How many of you used to write letters regularly? When was the last time you wrote one? Can you still write in cursive? When was the last time you did? How many of you even know what we’re talking about when we say “cursive”?Here’s something else younger members of the audience may not remember – a newspaper. How many of you subscribe to a daily newspaper?Do you use your cellphone more for phone calls or for sending text messages?How many of you have used your cellphone or tablet when dining out with your spouse, date, family or friends? Be honest, how many of you have sent a text message or checked Facebook while at church?
  • A humorous video a church produced to remind people to turn off their cellphones while at church.
  • So much has changed in the world of communications in just a short time. Nokia produced the first phone to use text messaging just 20 years ago in 1993. The first iPhone didn’t appear until 2007. Facebook appeared in 2004 but didn’t gain its first 100 million fans until 2008. Virtually all of the social media platforms we use today – Twitter, Linkedin, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+ -- have all been introduced during the past decade. It’s not surprising that we’re still taking some time as a society to adjust to these new ways to communicate and to figure out what is considered good behavior and what is not.
  • Even though communication habits and technology may change, some things never do. When we communicate with others, we want to receive the following (see bullet points). That requires our concentration and attention.
  • There’s a right time and place to use your cellphone – and this is not one of them!
  • In the office: Limit personal calls and keep them short; watch your volume (don’t talk too loudly and disrupt your coworkers); be careful about using speakerphone (make sure you have privacy) and when you do make sure person on the other end knows it up front.In restaurants: Don’t put phone on the table; Don’t answer it unless urgent (and then announce ahead of time that you’re expecting a call)At a meeting or conference: Put phone on silent or vibrate; change that weird or whacky ringtone. If speaking at a conference, however, you must accept that in today’s world some of those in the audience WILL be “multi-tasking” and using their phones. We all do it. While I agree it’s not always a good idea, the reality is that it happens and that those doing so don’t mean any disrespect to you the speaker. Talk about chapel at Faulkner University (and any other campus). When possible, find ways to incorporate using cellphones with the talk. Do a survey, share a link, etc.
  • You can get your audience more engaged by giving them a reason to use their cellphones – like this example here from a music concert.
  • This is an example of a polling service using smartphones – this is from Poll Everywhere.
  • Many employees have received reprimands or even lost their jobs due to inappropriate email messages. Remember that anything you write in an email may be forwarded to other recipients and that even deleted messages can be recovered by IT officers.
  • Degroft’s emails were crude. One showed a National Geographic photo of bare-breasted African women with a caption saying this was Michelle Obama’s high school reunion. Do you know people who post messages like this to email or Facebook? Even a personal Facebook message can cost you your career or bring scandal upon your family or employer. Think twice! Use common sense! Keep in mind too that you represent your employer wherever you go – while shopping, at your children’s sporting events, in restaurants and bars.
  • John was a Cornell University business school employee. He meant to send an email to Lisa, another Cornell employee, but mistakenly hit the “send all” button instead. Problem: John and Lisa, both married, were having an affair. The email exchange was X-rated.
  • Tips:Control the email monster: Email can cut into concentration and productivity; it’s OK to have designated times during the day to check email; you need to control the flow of email and not let it control you.Make subject lines clear: Never leave the subject line blank. The wording of the subject line should be clear, concise and focused on the topic of the email. Use good language skills and proofread: Your credibility, and the credibility of your employer, is on the line with every email you send. Take the time to get it right. Use spellcheck. Office email should be more formal than an email or text to your friend, and more formal than a Twitter message.Leave off the emoticons: Business email should be more formal, especially when writing to supervisors and the public. Don’t be too relaxed or too informal.
  • Tips:Keep it short and focused. Email is not used like an Amazon Kindle. It’s not for reading books. Keep your message short and focused.Avoid attaching documents: It’s better to copy and paste the text of a document into the email than to attach it. People are more likely to read it.Practice the “Count to 10” rule: Remember the old adage about “counting to 10” before saying something in anger? Apply the same principle to email. If you are writing a grievance or sending a negative message, write it in draft form only, put it away for awhile, then come back later, preferably the next day, and re-read it. You may decide not to send it afterall. A good tip: Don’t put the recipient’s name on the email until you’ve proofed the message, thought about it carefully and are sure it’s ready to send. Know when to email and when to communicate another way: Email is a terrible way to communicate negative news. RadioShack once laid off 400 people with an email message. If you are having a misunderstanding with a co-worker or supervisor, do NOT send an email. Rather, get up and go to his or her office and TALK. Even if the other person starts the email, don’t reply; go and TALK.
  • Nonverbal cues: Our smile, our eye contact, our body language and our posture all influence how we “communicate” to other people.
  • A closing tip: Handwritten thank-you notes are POWERFUL. Make it a habit to send thank-you notes to people. Sending an email thank you may be good enough for some situations, but email does not make nearly the impression on people that a written thank-you note put into the mail does. As a former college teacher, I still keep thank-you notes from my former students. That’s the power of thank-you notes.
  • Business and Professional Communications

    1. 1. Business and professional communications Association of County Commissions of Alabama By Dave Hogan
    2. 2. Let’s talk about your communication habits
    3. 3. http://youtu.be/D2_c81Nnsc0
    4. 4. Communication styles have changed wellsphere.com
    5. 5. Some things haven’t changed  Courtesy  Respect  Primacy  Sincerity  Understanding
    6. 6. What’s your biggest pet peeve about people using their cellphones?
    7. 7. Phone etiquette  In the office  In restaurants  At a meeting or conference
    8. 8. www.broadwayworld.com, BWWMusicWorld
    9. 9. Email in the office  More than 100 billion emails are sent and received per day in the office, well more than half of all email correspondence worldwide. Source: The Radicati Group, April 2013
    10. 10. Email in the office  Email is the primary form of communication in most offices today  Pros: Efficient, fast, removes distance barriers and provides a written record of correspondence  Cons: Email distracting and a potential time waster; it is easily misunderstood or ignored; not good for conveying complex or negative messages
    11. 11. Think twice before sending that email!  The employer owns and controls office email; assume it’s monitored.  Always assume email may be forwarded, viewed by others. There is no such thing as privacy with office email.  Restrict email at work to work-related topics.  Never email in anger.  Be careful with email humor and forwards.
    12. 12. Office email fails  Nancy Sebring, resigned before starting work as new superintendent for Omaha public schools  Racy emails from previous employer, Des Moines public schools, became public.
    13. 13. Office email fails  School board member Herb Degroft in Virginia asked to resign due to derogatory email messages he sent regarding First Lady Michelle Obama.  His defense that the emails were political, not racist, didn’t help his case. articles.dailypress.com
    14. 14. Office email fails  Cornell University case shows risk of email carelessness  Know who you are sending email to!  Keep your personal and business lives separate
    15. 15. Using email more effectively  Control the email monster!  Make subject lines clear  Use good language skills and PROOFREAD  Leave off the emoticons!
    16. 16. Using email more effectively  Keep it short and focused.  Avoid attaching documents when possible  Practice the “Count to 10” rule  Know when to email and when to communicate in another way
    17. 17. Non-verbal communications  First impressions are hard to change  How is your handshake?  Focus on the person you speaking to  Show sincere interest and concern
    18. 18. Summing it up: Practice the Golden Rule. “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12)(NIV)
    19. 19. Questions?

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