I recently ran a writing workshop for a group of internal communication ‘power’ users and came away with a lot of interesting insights.
As an internal communication professional I get to vet messages hitting large groups of people everyday. These range from simple office updates to complex change management roll-outs. With the speed at which communication is expected to be churned out, many of these communicators hurriedly prepare drafts that fail to address the essence of what they want to convey. I therefore felt a need to educate communicators on ways to reduce rework, improve recall, build credibility, shorten turnaround time and increase readability.
The workshop shared context on best practices, trends, templates, tools, the ‘Twitter’ style of communicating, web writing techniques and hands-on exercises. As business consultants we are expected to communicate effectively using this widely accepted language though it isn’t our mother tongue in India. Research also indicates the benefits of effective writing in reducing ‘info-obesity’. On an average a professional worker receives close to 178 messages in a day and this is known to increase by 2% every month! By using plain language techniques we can reduce writing and reading time by 25% and 50% respectively.
I found participants eager to learn this critical skill that focuses on the reader’s expectation.
Here is a sample of the questions that were posed during the session.
a) How can we be sure employees are getting the message?
b) Do we consider cultural nuances when we write our messages?
c) E-mail writing and etiquette – what works for personal vs official communication?
d) How do we respond to someone who is ‘flame baiting’ on e-mail?
e) When do we not send an e-mailer?
Strangely, most never measured their communication nor were aware of ways to do so. Some weren’t aware of how to ‘touch’ employees via other forums apart from e-mail. Also the ‘mechanism of communication’ was barely understood by writers – i.e., the process, the steps to review and edit messages. Testing messages, such an important piece of creating communication is rarely used.
My goal is to increase the pool of ‘internal’ writers and excite them to participate in larger company-wide communication. In the long run, I believe it will result in better quality of communication and greater visibility for those employees as well.
Who wouldn’t want to communicate with people who write well?