Working from home doesn’t affect your performance. Does it?! You would never have Netflix on in the background while writing a report. Or read-up on some notes in a hot bath. Or pop-out to the shops between calls. Of course not!
But I am told that there are some very naughty people (not Linked-In to me, of course) who do just that. And with an increasing number of us being asked to work from home, our emails and calls are vying for attention with everything from the TV to the novel by the bed.
So it’s our job to maximise the chances of getting our message across relevantly and clearly. Which means:
Prioritise your key message
People with short attention spans need to see what’s important first. That’s the principle behind newspaper headlines, web links and even click bait. And it works. Make sure your message subject is clear and helpful. And that you decide exactly what you want the recipient of your email to remember – and get it in early.
Let’s pretend you have bad back ache. I know a physio who can help. Are you more likely to respond to a message that says: “I know someone who could have you free from pain in 30 minutes, call me” or this one: “I can give you the number of a professional with eight years’ experience who lives in Islington”? The second is factually correct. But the first wins because it has a positive benefit for you. It’s about the ‘why’ not the ‘what’. Which piques our interest.
The kettle’s boiling, the horse racing starts in six minutes and the phone could ring at any moment. Let’s bear that in mind before we embark on long, detailed messages. If the email looks short, a colleague or client is likely to read it and remember what it says. There’s a reason why successful advertising straplines are typically six words or less.
You’ll never get thanked for wasting anyone’s time. Nor for making them feel confused or inadequate. And yet so many people in a work environment feel compelled to write in a tortuous, over-complicated way to demonstrate just how institutionalised and important they have become. Keeping it simple isn’t original, but it’ll ensure there are no barriers between your email being opened and read.
Get on the phone
Pick-up the phone
Yes, you may still be wearing pyjamas at 2pm. You may be ‘working’ with the dog on your lap and Sonos at full volume. And you may be demonstrating extraordinary multi-tasking skills while on the job (that’s a euphemism!). But please remember that the easiest way to connect with someone is a chat. Ideally via video link. And however bad the virus epidemic becomes, you won’t catch it via a handset. Great communication oozes empathy. Which is typically a hell of a lot quicker to establish on the phone than within message 78 of 97 in an ever-growing work-from-home email inbox!
Want some help?
At a time like this, I’m very aware that there’s nothing quite as irritating as a sales pitch clothed as helpful advice. However, it would be negligent of me not to mention that we are currently helping clients across the world with scripts for video messages, e-town halls, emails and articles. Alys is also giving some brilliant one-to-one training on delivery via skype. Please call us any time on +44 (0) 207 118 1600 if you like us to take the comms off your hands while you get stuck into Succession Series 2.