The ABCs of good communication just got an “F”


Why the heck do we communicate information? Answer that question correctly and you win. Win your audience, that is.

But waste their time by creating useless, inaccurate, wordy, muddled, ugly, purposeless, and hard-to-find content and you will have bought a ticket to unemployment. So how can you ensure you don’t waste your audience’s time?

Follow these ABCs of good communication:

A is for accuracy – Research every fact and conclusion you make. Rely on SMEs (subject matter experts) and check sources.

B is for brevity – Be brief. Edit ruthlessly. Make every paragraph, every sentence, and every word earn its right to be.

C is for clarity – Eliminate misunderstood words. Write phrases that can be understood by a 5th grade-level reader. (You’re not “dumbing it down.” You’re making sure all levels Continue reading

How to say “I am sorry” to a designer


sorry.jpgI found this in my Stumbleupon wanderings:

swiss-miss.com/2010/02/im-sorry.html

Clever. Inside joke? Not if you use Windows shortcuts. Your designer will appreciate it.

Oh, it’s Command+Z to the designer, most likely a Mac user.

The art of the focal point


“Every good design needs a focal point.” Garr Reynolds begins in this meaty blog post.

Explaining “Tokonoma,” Garr moves from the Japanese architectural and cultural explanation, into the realm of practical application in—of all things—presentations. He takes the real-life, explains the concepts, and turns them back into the real life.

Brilliantly depicting before and after examples of presentation images, Garr shows examples that my most-practical and literal-minded followers can swallow.

I encourge you to apply the principles if you do any of the following:

  • create presentations and training visuals
  • design living spaces or workspaces
  • create visual communications (even the most-basic e-mail!)
  • Read his post on presentationzen.com.

E-mail signature blocks. How to.


Kat Neville writes on Smashing Magazine “The Art and Science of the Email Signature.

Nice work. Too many of my friends and coworkers have loaded down their signatures with every number, every tagline, every graphic logo of the company, in every color in the company-approved brand palette.

Brevity. Clarity.

That’s all recipients want.

Also, if the majority of your email is sent inhouse, then create an internal signature that’s your default.

Name, Extension.

Period.

No need to tell your coworkers the name of the company you both work for, your own Web site, and monthly Marketing tagline.

Speaking of company brand, the pastel colors some companies include in their palette are instant turnoffs. Try reading this: andy gee, communication specialist

5 Rules for Better Web Writing


5rulesMashable.com’s Josh Catone clearly practices what he preaches when he writes the “5 Rules for Better Web Writing.”

  • For seasoned technical writers, this is nothing new.
  • For newbies and my practicing students who are thrust into the world of technical writing for the Web, pay heed.

Simplify


(updated 6/2009 with new link to Grammar Girl’s podcast)
Have you noticed how complicated the world can be? Tired of reading legalese? Confused by complex tools crammed with complicated directions to confound you and stake claim to your cranium?

It’s time to do your part. Learn to simplify what others read. Think Readability. Simplicity. Clarity.
grammargirl

Start with Grammar Girl’s post of Adam Friedman’s “Simplify Your Writing.” As author of “The Party of the First Part”, he knows the topic. (And, I just love Mignon Fogarty’s podcasts!)

Rethinking the Presentation


Business Week’s article “Rethinking the Presentation”supports the presentation principles that I’ve covered in past sermons blog entries. In summary, the article reinforces the mantra: avoid bullet points, cut the noise, picture superiority, and other facets of the new design methodology.

As a team member on a redesign of our new employee orientation presentations, we featured many of these techniques, starting with Continue reading

I’m using Jott a lot


“I’m using Jott to transcribe this. I’m calling Jott from my cellphone. It’s going to automatically create a WordPress log entry. Isn’t this cool? Stay tuned for more details. listen

Powered by Jott
_________________________
Now that Jott has automatically created this blog entry from my cellphone, I’m here to post a followup explaining what just happened and why I recommend Jott.
Continue reading

Simplicity – according to Eric Burke


From Eric Burke’s Stuff that Happens blog, his graphic “Simplicity” blog entry speaks for itself.

Funny, yet maddenly true.
This is not knocking enterprise-specific apps designed for data-intensive entry. It’s to point out there are SOME usability guidelines designers often overlook for the sake of getting in every last system requirement or user requested feature.
But before those of you in Information Technology division start to get hot under the collar, remember this is just a comic strip, meant to be funny.

Andy, whose life mission is “to simplify the complex, serve others, and sing of creative problem solving.”

Simplify your desk surface


enuff-monitorsWho says you should have just one monitor with your computer? On my desk, my productivity dramatically improved when my tech support showed me that my laptop screen AND my desktop monitor could both function together as two separate monitors displaying different “halves” of my desktop.

So, if one is standard, and two is a productivity improvement, is it possible to have TOO MANY monitors?

Check this out, Continue reading

All they want is your phone number


This is how to drive your user or customer away from your site. I was eagerly filling out an online form one day, when I suddenly came to a screeching halt at the phone number.
Check it out and see if you can spot what’s wrong with this.
phone number format
Continue reading

Good PowerPoint design


Instead of just “rebranding” our new employee orientation slides, a team is giving them an extreme makeover. I’m excited to report that the team is saying “no more boring bullet point slides!”
I’m jazzed that we’re considering overall presentation flow, identifying key takeaway messages, reminding ourselves of the mental perspective of a new employee, and connecting that audience regardless of their division or department.
For starters, check out Presentation Zen’s summary of (continued)