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Getting your professional message across


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Presentation to the annual conference of the Employee Assistance Professionals Association of Australia, held at the Sydney Hilton, August 2014.

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Getting your professional message across

  1. 1. GETTING YOUR PROFESSIONAL MESSAGE ACROSS Rhonda Bracey EAPAA Conference August 2014 #cybertext
  2. 2. Quick poll Channel Professional Personal Neither Website LinkedIn Twitter Facebook Blog Pinterest © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 2
  3. 3. ‘From little things big things grow’1 © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 3 Start small; add as you grow confident Start with the medium that requires the least effort and best suits your personality Don’t try it all at once  overwhelming Only do what YOU’RE comfortable with Personable written communication is critical 1. Paul Kelly and Kev Carmody
  4. 4. Start small: my progression © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 4 Email discussion groups (from mid 1990s) Professional website (from 1999) Email newsletter (~2003– 2007) LinkedIn (from mid- 2004) Professional blog on WordPress (from late 2007) Facebook (from late 2007) Twitter (from early 2009) Pinterest (from mid 2013)
  5. 5. My blog stats over time….  Posted 1x day for first 2 years; now more like 1x week/fortnight, but still they keep coming. Why? I offer solutions! © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 5 (as at 04 August 2014)
  6. 6. Why promote yourself/your business? © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 6
  7. 7. Why promote?  Raise your profile:  keep your name uppermost in the minds of those who need you  stand out from the crowd  Maintain your profile to:  help retain existing clients (out of sight = out of mind)  encourage new clients  Word-of-mouth referrals  most powerful advertising  You have a good message to deliver, so do so!  Many channels… Social media is not just what you had for breakfast—use it to present yourself in a professional way © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 7
  8. 8. How much to share?  YOU decide how much and what to share  Be aware of any ethical/ moral/ professional/ business contracts you need to uphold © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 8  Decide if you’ll respond to comments/feedback or not; watch out for trolls  Always choose the option to moderate comments, and delete as necessary
  9. 9. How often?  As much as you need to!  Consistent/regular  Don’t publicise a time commitment UNLESS you know you can keep to it for YEARS, but:  have an internal commitment else you’ll just be another site/page cluttering up the web © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 9
  10. 10. Personal attributes © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 10  Willing to share knowledge freely  Willing to help others  Willing to commit time to these activities, e.g.:  ~1 hour/day to check streams and respond/reply  more if you intend writing regularly  Able to write clearly and briefly in a more informal style
  11. 11. 11 Personable writing is essential Takeaways:  Clear and concise  Business casual  Avoid real names, situations, locations © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd
  12. 12. Writing strategies © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 12  Maintain basics of good communication—be clear and concise  Be personable—let your personality shine through  Don't use real names or locations. EVER.  Use ‘smart, business casual’ writing style  Grab attention quickly otherwise tl;dr (‘too long; didn’t read’)  Use compelling and guiding headlines and subheadings for those who only skim/scan  Learn how to write a clear message in 140 characters!
  13. 13. ‘Smart, business casual’ ‘formal business attire’ (suit etc.) v. ‘smart, business casual’  formal business/academic writing v. ‘business casual’ communication © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 13
  14. 14. 140-character limit  Twitter only; forces you to  get to the point quickly  keep it short  Microsoft Word? Use the word count function (Review tab > Word Count)  Excel: Set the character limit for a cell: character-limit.html © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 14
  15. 15. Topic ideas © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 15  Offer helpful, useful, practical insights to existing/new clients; e.g.  general advice you regularly communicate—e.g. meditation/ breathing/ visualisation techniques  case studies, scenarios, inspirational stories  opinion, commentary  literature reviews  resources, links  Focus on benefits, solutions, strategies  Headline starters:  top 3, 5, 7, 10  hint, tip, how to, best  Keep a ‘notes bank’ for ideas; e.g.  online: Evernote, task list in Outlook  offline: notebook, note cards
  16. 16. Be clear… © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 16 Terminology (avoid vague words like ‘it’, ‘this’, ’they’, etc.) Punctuation (use the serial [Oxford] comma to remove ambiguity) Structure (write lists as dot points, numbered steps; word order) Object/subject (who is doing what to whom?) Plain language (how would you explain to a spouse/parent/child) Dates/times (avoid relative words; be specific)
  17. 17. Be specific © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 17  What’s wrong with these words?:  it, they, their  this, these  These words are meaningless unless it’s absolutely clear what ‘it’ etc. refers to; examples:  The bomb is connected to a red and to a blue wire. Cut it to defuse it.  If the contractor adds value to a company dataset, it shall be submitted to the company representative with an updated metadata record.
  18. 18. Be specific © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 18
  19. 19. Ban relativity! © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 19  What’s wrong with these words?:  Currently, recently, now, yesterday, today, tomorrow  Last/this/next week/month/year  New, modern  Five years ago, two decades ago, last century  These words are meaningless unless you know what date is used as the anchor point  Watch for season names if your readers aren’t local See also:
  20. 20. Use commas to remove ambiguity © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 20  Add commas if there’s ANY chance the items could be read as one and thus misinterpreted  e.g. ‘red, white, black and blue’ versus ‘red, white, black, and blue’
  21. 21. Use commas… © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 21  …to separate items that shouldn’t be treated together
  22. 22. Be concise… © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 22 Remove all unnecessary words Remove all repetitive/redundant words Switch the words around Clarity (‘be clear’) trumps brevity (‘be concise’)
  23. 23. Tighten up….. and use plain language Before (189 chars) After (96 chars) on an annual basis annually (or yearly) can be in excess of ten years can exceed ten years in the event of … occurring if … occurs in order to to that is able to can more than 180 countries around the world more than 180 countries will be able to assist with the identification of can help identify © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 23
  24. 24. Don’t rely on spellcheckers © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 24  A spellchecker will tell you if a word is spelled incorrectly, but it won’t tell you if it’s the incorrect word
  25. 25. Examples of business casual writing © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 25    
  26. 26. 26 Social Media Takeaways:  Decide which medium (one or several)  Decide how much to share (possibly moral, ethical, professional limitations)  Consider separate business and personal accounts  Consider cross-promotional options  ALWAYS set privacy options © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd
  27. 27. Main social media options © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 27 LinkedIn (professional profile/contacts) Blogs (posts [articles], comments) Twitter (‘microblogging’, concise announcements) Facebook (professional pages option) Pinterest (online pin/notice board)
  28. 28. © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 28
  29. 29.  Professional profile  Professional connections—1st, 2nd, 3rd level  YOU choose how much to reveal:  Recommendation: Don’t give access to your Outlook contacts list!  extensive privacy settings  can send private message/email  Cross-promotion options:  to Twitter, Facebook  from Slideshare, WordPress  Can set up professional groups © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 29
  30. 30. © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 30
  31. 31.  Example page of 4 pages of privacy settings © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 31
  32. 32. Blogs: WordPress © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 32
  33. 33.  Blogging platform  brain dump  easy to write/edit, add media  plenty of free themes available to suit your persona  Also a cheap (free!) website; however, I recommend:  pay for own domain name (~$10/year for .com), and point WordPress site to that domain [$13/year] – i.e. not  pay for no ads ($30/year)  WordPress can help you set up a full business site ($299/year)  Turn on option to moderate comments  Add pictures so Pinterest users can ‘pin’ your posts © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 33
  34. 34. © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 34
  35. 35. Twitter © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 35
  36. 36.  ‘Microblogging’ (aka Tweets)—140 characters REALLY hones your writing; abbrevs OK  Follow colleagues, people/groups of interest to get started  Use Twitter lists, searches, and aggregators to manage Twitter stream better; e.g.  Tweetdeck (  Janetter (  Twitter is good for:  information you might not normally hear about  instant info on disasters etc. but depends on source of Tweet (e.g. police/emergency services v. Joe Public)  live updates in conferences  others spread your message globally  quick answers to questions/problems © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 36
  37. 37. © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 37
  38. 38. – Tweetdeck aggregator © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 38
  39. 39. Facebook © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 39
  40. 40.  Beware of LOL cats… and goats…  Can set up Facebook page for your business:  cheap (free) website  announcements  courses  hours, holidays  links to interesting stuff for clients  ask for ‘likes’ from clients/colleagues/readers  cross-promote on website etc.  Can set up a Facebook group (private or public) for those with similar interests  Like Twitter, can be good for instant info on disasters etc. but depends on source © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 40
  41. 41. Facebook © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 41
  42. 42. Facebook © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 42
  43. 43. Facebook © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 43
  44. 44. Facebook © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 44
  45. 45. Facebook © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 45
  46. 46. Facebook © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 46
  47. 47. Pinterest © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 47
  48. 48. © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 48  Online ‘noticeboard’ for pinning images/videos of interest  Boards (collections of pins):  have a common theme that you choose—e.g. techniques, ideas, inspiration  can be private (you and/or invitees) or public  Users can follow other users’ boards and like or ‘re-pin’ the images they share
  49. 49. Pinterest © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 49
  50. 50. Others  Website (fairly static, more ‘business professional’)  Email newsletters  big contacts list? use services like,  Email discussion groups/lists (e.g. Yahoo! Groups; public or private)  Online forums (public or private) © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 50
  51. 51. Cross-promotion  Consider cross-promotional options in the various channels; e.g.  write a WordPress blog post and auto promote to Facebook, Twitter etc.  add photos to blog posts to get ‘pinned’  let LinkedIn add your Twitter/blog feed to your profile  Cross-promote your business Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn etc. accounts on your website/blog © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 51
  52. 52. Biggest concern… © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 52 Privacy!
  53. 53. All have privacy settings © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 53  Twitter and Facebook privacy settings, e.g.  can lock Tweets/notifications to only those who follow you and you follow back  can block Tweets/users  Facebook groups can be made private  can direct message (DM)/private message (PM) on both  LinkedIn: Many privacy options  WordPress:  can lock pages/password protect pages  can lock entire blog so only those YOU'VE decided can access it can see it  Pinterest: Can have private boards
  54. 54. To recap… © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd 54 Start small; add as you grow confident Start with the medium that requires the least effort and best suits your personality Don’t try it all at once  overwhelming Only do what YOU’RE comfortable with Personable written communication is critical
  55. 55. 55 Thank you… Any questions? Contact/connect with me:    Blog:  Twitter: @cybertext  LinkedIn: © CyberText Consulting Pty Ltd