This week I had a day with a list of to do’s so long it stretched into the next day. As I was multi-tasking my way through it, I was monitoring my emails and received one from someone I responded to without really thinking. You guessed it, my response, intended for one person, went to everyone on the list. I know that most everyone has done this at one time or another, but not only is this embarrassing and unprofessional, it gives the impression that I am a careless, unthinking person. I like to think I am not.
What is an overloaded, overwhelmed woman to do to prevent this from happening again?
I went online and searched for some tips to help me communicate in the age of twitter, instagram, email, texts, and other fast and furious modes. There are some helpful ones out there, such as Bloomberg Businessweek’s Top 10 Tips for Sending E-mails, or the Denovati Group’s 15 Tips for Sending Emails, or their Twitter Best Practices, 11+ Tips for Tweeting Well. In reading several of them, here are the tips they all cover. I’ve been trying to incorporate them into my digital communications and avoid another dreaded mistake. The emphasis is on email as it still is the primary method of business communication.
- Fill in the To field last. This helps you think about the message contents. If you are using social media, such as twitter, fill in your hashtag or tweet address last. You won’t send erroneous messages, and you won’t send messages to the wrong people (note to self!).
- Count to 10 before you send. Make a conscious decision that your message is worthwhile. Check to make sure it says what you want it to say, and is going to the correct person, group, or list. Do this even for tweets, instagrams, snapchats, texts. It may seem to defeat the purpose of instant messaging, but it may eliminate regrets!
- Send and respond only if you really have something to say. No one, other than you, is compelling you to answer everything. This saves time, energy, and the compulsion to answer anyone about anything.
- Communicate in person, on the phone, or on a web meeting. If you are going to write a long email, several tweets, many instagrams, just reach out and tell someone the old fashioned way instead!
- Re-read your messages. Correct mistakes, get to the point, be relevant. We are all overwhelmed by emails, tweets, etc. so make your communications count.
- For email, write an informative subject line. Help people know what you are sending them. Not only are they more apt to open your message, but this also helps you target your email to keep it short, to the point, and informative, like writing an outline for a term paper.
- Know your audience. Personal, quick, funny communiqués are great for your bff, but not for your boss, customers, or other business colleagues.
- Read your message as if you were receiving it. Often, we know what we want to say and don’t realize we aren’t saying it.
- If you are sending an attachment, double check to make sure it is really attached. How many times have you forgotten and had to write the my face is red follow-up?
- Respond to important messages as soon as you can, even if it is to say you will respond later. People appreciate knowing you received their communication.
What are your tips for avoiding digital bloopers? Add to this list and share your tips and expertise.