As many of you know, I like to help people improve the way they communicate in the professional world. In this article I wanted to give you some tips you can do very easily to make sure your message is getting through.
1) Get out your business card.
First, is the background so dark that you can’t read all of the text easily? I’m currently looking at a card with a very dark blue background and very small white text that is so faint I can hardly see it.
Second, is the font size large enough that most people can read it comfortably at arm’s length?
Next, check if the fonts would be easy for an app to identify. Many people use an app to photograph business cards and add details to a database. If your details are not easy to translate, the information could be stored incorrectly.
Finally, have you got a phone number and email address to contact you on? It seems obvious but some cards are missing this key information.
I’m not suggesting you go out and get new cards printed now but when you are next getting a set designed, think about these factors and not just how nice it looks.
2) Open your Twitter profile. Do you have a brief description that would make relevant people want to connect with you? When someone follows you, you see a sentence or two about that person and many people will follow you back if your description is of interest or at least doesn’t put them off! Quite a few people don’t have a description, which means that people are much less likely to choose to follow them back. You can usually find and edit your description under your picture on your profile page.
3) Consider the length of anything you are writing and match it to the platform. Twitter is an easy platform to use in this sense because you are automatically restricted to a set character length. When we’re let loose on other platforms, we often don’t stop to consider how long our text is. I’ve seen a number of Whatsapp business posts of over 200 words. For instant messaging you should really try to stick to under 80 words unless you are convinced your point is so interesting and valid that people will focus on it all the way through.
Similar rules apply on Facebook. How many times have you seen a post that starts with a giant paragraph? How many times have you scrolled by it without even reading it? A good tip is to start with two or three very short points spaced out on separate lines to draw in the interest of the reader and then have a longer paragraph once they are engaged with your content. The same tip applies to marketing emails too where people will only allocate a few seconds to glancing at your content to see if it is worth reading all the way through. Articles on your website can be longer and more detailed as people expect a website to have the most detailed content.
4) Do the eight second test. Find a person who doesn’t know your business well and hasn’t visited your website before and get them to do the eight second test. They should navigate to the site and then give themselves eight seconds to find out what you do. They then have a further eight seconds to find out how to get in touch with you. Some recent studies have shown that the average human attention span is now only eight seconds (this may or may not be true but we know that people now have limited focus) so some people will switch off after this length of time and might navigate away from your website if they can’t find what they want within a short timespan.
5) Do you know what your message is? You can’t convey a message if you aren’t clear about what it is so you should try to summarise the message in one fairly short sentence. If you can’t do that, then you probably aren’t as clear about what you want to say as you originally thought. This summary should be the purpose of your text/speech and can be applied to any form of communication such as a phone call, an email, a letter or a social media post. Examples might be:
“I am ringing this client to see if they have heard about our new service and persuade them to use it.”
“I am posting this picture of our new handset design on Facebook with a short description to let people know what advantages it has in order to advertise the product.”
“This page on our website will inform people about all the ways they can get in touch with us.”
I hope you have found some of these tips helpful. If you would like more tips, get in touch and book a one to one review of your communication skills or book a course for your staff.