I hear this one a lot, especially in my business writing or presentation workshops, where learners comment that their bosses need the class more than they do. Let’s optimistically assume most bosses know what they want to communicate and generally accept the importance of effective workplace communication. So, why are so many of them weak communicators? Here’s a summary of my thoughts, based on over 25 years experience as a workplace communication manager, consultant, trainer and executive coach:
(A reader recently commented that her written style and verbal style are often different. My reply … )
Lots of people feel that way and communicate accordingly. However, that doesn’t need to be the case in the contemporary and more casual business culture many of us work in. If you view workplace writing as ‘people talking to people on paper’, then you value and use a more conversational style.
Several readers commented on how much they enjoyed the ‘Energizers’ from my workshops that I posted last month. So, here’s another one – my favorite. It’s been around for decades, but few people I encounter remember it or how it works. Enjoy!
I recently responded to a reader who asked for suggestions for fun, simple energizers to use in training classes or staff meetings. Since I teach a lot of workplace writing workshops, I use fun word games after break or at the top of a session to start on time. Have fun with these:
Think of a word that has all the vowels in it in order (A – E – I – O – U – Y) - Facetiously.
What are two countries in the world whose names begin with ‘A’ but don’t end with ‘A’? – ‘Azerbaijan’ & ‘Afghanistan’.
Longest word typed without repeating a letter: ‘uncopywriteable’ (15 letters).
Longest word typed only using left-hand keys: ‘Stewardesses’ (12 letters).
Longest word typed only using right-hand keys: ‘Lollipop’ (8 letters).
Longest word typed only using one row of keys: ‘Typewriter’ (10 letters).
Longest word that is only one syllable: 9 letters – strengths, screeched, squelched, straights, stretched.
Regular readers know that I frequently engage in lively discussions with several LinkedIn groups. A recent posting asked about ideas for following up on business cards gathered at networking events. Some excerpts from my comments:
I only get cards from people I want to get to know better – people I think I can help or who might be able to help me.
Don’t give your card to anyone! Really! Wait for people to ask for one. If they don’t and you really want them to have one, ask if you can give them your card. A simple little difference, but it sends out a very clear – and positive – message.
I send an email to each person I want to get to know better, asking for a good time to follow up on our brief conversation started at the event, but I don’t send any marketing information unless that person asked for something.
Here’s a different twist on the typical tactic after a networking event of asking for an in-person follow up chat. Since I’ve already met the person and established a minimal ‘hi touch’ connection, I respect their time and mine by suggesting we begin a more detailed and convenient email or phone dialogue. As that conversation evolves, the need for and value in another in-person meeting becomes more obvious.
I recently engaged in a LinkedIn discussion group about using jokes in the introduction of a presentation to gain audience interest. Here’s a summary of my rant on that topic.
I totally agree that the first few minutes of any presentation are most important. Start strong, powerfully and engaging – immediately. But, I totally disagree with telling a joke unless you were hired to be an entertainer, it’s an after dinner speech and the only goal is to be humorous. Jokes rarely work in a typical workplace presentation and can create a very ineffective impression from the beginning. It’s often hard to recover from such a weak start.
( My response to a recent LinkedIn Group discussion question that asked about the value of using quotes in presentations.)
I regularly use a lot of quotes in my training, speaking and writing. However, I’m adamant about putting the sources in proper context. Few people are so well known that they don’t need any reference, like Jefferson, Mark Twain, Churchill, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., etc. For the rest, we need to answer the question the readers or listeners often have – ‘So, who is that guy?’
It doesn’t take much time or effort to go beyond just listing ‘Tom Peters’to ‘Tom Peters, contemporary American management expert & author of ‘In Search of Excellence‘ Same goes for ‘Oscar Wilde, 19th century Irish poet, playwright & novelist’, ‘Voltaire, 18th century French writer, historian & philosopher’and ‘Jerry Clower, 1926 – 1998, American humorist & writer’.
Not adding that information can weaken the value of the quote, because who said it may be more important than what he or she said. When listeners or readers encounter quotes without context, they might assume the writer or speaker was too lazy or indifferent to find out that information or assumed everyone knew who that person was … possibly making people feel stupid when they don’t.
So, harness the power of using quotes effectively, but take the extra effort to put them in context.. And you can quote me!
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Simply put, Phil lives and breathes communication … it’s what he teaches, it’s what he understands, and it’s what he has made his passion.Jeff Nischwitz, PresidentThink Again Coaching