Ever have a friend who keeps making the same mistake over and over again? You try to help, to give advice that will prevent your friend from getting burned--but he or she seems to do that dumb thing repeatedly, and all you can do is stand there, helplessly shaking your head.
That's how I feel when I see smart professionals making communication mistakes. They should know better, but they keep creating communication that simply isn't effective. Here are five mistakes I keep seeing again and again. Please don't try these at work:
1. Too long.
A thousand words is never the right length anymore. Neither is 500. People don't have time to read that much content, especially on their smartphones, but even on larger screens. Long content turns people off before they even start. You've got to stop.
2. Crazy complicated.
The senior VP of Whatever may love complicated concepts, described in great detail, but no one else cares. As a matter of fact, they're more likely to tune out if communication is too technical, jargon-laden, MBA-oriented. You know this already. Now you need to simplify.
3. Too abstract.
What does the word quality really mean? Synergy? Innovation? These are abstract terms that I can't picture--unless you bring them to life by showing examples, telling stories, making them tangible. (Like my "friend" example in the first paragraph.) If your communication is abstract, employees won't connect.
We're living in a YouTube world, where people can download television shows, songs, photos, audio snippets--anything you can imagine. That's why writing alone doesn't seem very dynamic. Can you make it visual? Can you make it move? Can you bring it to life?
5. Poorly timed.
If you're communicating initiatives that start six or 18 months from now, people will hit the delete button right now. This is a just-in-time universe. People prize immediacy; it needs to make sense for what I'm doing today. Get the timing right.
Most of these are fairly easy to correct, so start today. You can do it!