Viral energy. E-mail blasts. Crowdsourcing. Search engine optimization. These concepts are part of today’s business jargon that represents the rise of e-communications over the past decade.
The communication tools available to small businesses are more numerous than ever before, but so are the examples of people using them ineffectively – or worse, inappropriately.
I manage a public relations agency in Saint Paul, Minnesota. As professional communicators, we frequently receive questions about how to communicate the right way in today’s hyper-connected world. We are in a new communications frontier, and businesses – both large and small – are looking for guidance on how to communicate appropriately.
Enter Goff Public’s book: The Ann E. Answers Guide to Communication Etiquette in the Digital Age.
In this advice column-style book, under the pseudonym Ann E. Answers, the staff of Goff Public answers many of today’s common communications etiquette questions, such as avoiding smartphone use in meetings and unlinking social media accounts. Here are five tips to make you a better communicator in today’s complex world:
1. Always proofread
Just because we can communicate at lightning speed doesn’t mean we should press “send” or “post” before someone else proofreads what we have written. Proofreading can save you and your business from embarrassment and ensure your writing makes a good impression on others. Besides catching grammatical errors, proofreading helps identify awkwardly worded phrases that could be misinterpreted.
2. Know your social media platforms
Each social media channel is unique. In general, Facebook is for communicating with friends and family, LinkedIn is for connecting with other professionals, and Twitter is for sharing with anyone. Know your audience on each platform, and post your messages accordingly.
3. Create concise, readable messages
Attention spans are short these days. Take the time to make your messages concise. And be careful not to abuse the thesaurus. Messages are only effective if your audience understands them. The average American adult reads at an eighth-grade level, two levels below the writing in the New York Times.
4. Put down the smartphone
Checking your smartphone during meetings exudes a feeling of indifference to others at the meeting. Texting, checking e-mail, and surfing the web while in a group setting are some of the most common rude behaviors today. You will stand out in a good way by not breaking this simple rule.
5. Behold the power of a handwritten thank-you note
A handwritten thank-you note is the most authentic way to convey your appreciation. Give a handwritten thank-you note to anyone who has helped your business. Professionals will appreciate that you went the extra, personalized mile.
Even though technology is constantly changing, communication fundamentals remain the same: communicate your messages clearly, concisely and effectively to your audiences.