An Executive Director's point of view
July 14, 2014: Be specific
Many problems occur in associations because people think they've understood what others have said. But many people define words, actions, and situations differently. They may not interpret information in the same way nor be able to read others' signs.
So, be sure you and those with whom you interact understand each other. Clarify terms, restate goals and work directives, repeat discussion summaries, and confirm final decisions - even in writing, if necessary.
Don't be afraid of appearing slow or dumb or unable to remember things. Misunderstandings today can lead to monumental conflicts tomorrow.
January 03, 2014: Ditch the elevator pitch?
July 09, 2013: The tone of your email
Folks post messages in all sorts of ways, and they're usually just trying to get their messages across quickly in whatever way they feel most comfortable.
(I guess you shouldn't be overly concerned about grammar or spelling, either).
June 27, 2013: Bad instructions
But it didn't explain what that meant - nor how to do it.
When offering instructions about anything, don't assume people know what you are saying. Explain things in language users will understand.
June 16, 2013: No more technospeak
Would you hand somebody a document and say, "enclosed, as per your request, please find documents pertaining to the new project?"
It would be better to say, "here are the new project documents you asked about."
Remember, technospeak does not impress people. And industry lingo is gibberish - even to many people in the industry.
May 31, 2013: Just plain dumb
1. It did not tell the consultant that the street name had been changed and now had a different name.
2. It did not tell the consultant that the highway exit ramp listed in the directions had been closed for some time.
3. The consultant called for different directions and was given alternatives - but those had also been closed for some time (the organization admitted that it knew that).
4. When the consultant called again, the switchboard had been closed (during normal business hours) and nobody answered the phone nor returned voicemail messages.
The organization was angry when the consultant arrived late.
April 09, 2013: When somebody dies
Notification should be done in a way that is most likely to reach those people swiftly. Simply posting a notice on Facebook is not the way to achieve that.
When a co-worker dies, use whatever method is most effective for informing people in the office and in the organization.
For everybody else, call them. Those closest to the deceased can call some people and ask them to call others. Yes, you can post on Facebook or LinkedIn, print a newspaper and online obituary, send emails, and announce the event in other venues, to reach a wider audience.
But you should still call the people who are most affected. You'll be able to communicate with them more quickly, better convey the seriousness of the event, and ensure they will know what has happened. Don't wait for them to read about it somewhere.
Facebook posts do not replace personal contact.
February 03, 2013: Bad slide presentation
January 30, 2013: Just talk
He sat at his desk and spoke directly into the camera atop his computer monitor.
He wasn't coached. He didn't read from a script. It wasn't flashy. And he did not display very much charisma. He just talked to the members.
And they loved it.
They were delighted he took the time to tell them, personally (sort of), what was going on in the association. They appreciated his sincerity.
And they were impressed with his use of new (to them) technology, even though most of them were not regular users and some had never before viewed an online video.
The broadcast worked because he knew how to talk to his audience.
January 25, 2013: Do members read?
So, like everything else, know your audiences and deliver the information they want, in the way they want it.
Here's what to do if they don't want to be burdened with a lot of reading:
1. Present information as concisely as possible.
2. Use brief (very brief) headers.
3. Lead with the main point. Don't bury it in the middle of a communication and definitely do not save it for the end.
4. Use a lot of line breaks.
5. Avoid long paragraphs.
6. Break up copy with headers and/or images.
7. Use words that people understand.
8. Avoid professional jargon if your audience includes people outside your industry or profession.
9. Don't send digital info to people who want print.
10. And don't send print to those who want digital.
Don't force your members to read lots and lots of pages, documents, and (heavens, no) books. They won't. Expecting them to read too much will just make each of you more annoyed with the other.