You v/ I

When you leave messages do you use “you” or “I” more often? When you send a sales, introductory, or informational e-mail, does it say “you” or “I” more often? Count them in your last e-mail or sales letter; the recommendation is a 2-1 ratio, “you/r” to “I” or “me.”

This is an example of an e-mail sent to me: “I just left you a voicemail, sorry that I missed you. I am on the customer engagement team and I consult with users on strategy so they can get the best results possible. I have a few things that I want to talk to you about in regards to your account. Please give me a call back today at my direct number below.” “I/me” = 7; “You/r” = 4. Does this invite the reader to call back? What’s in it for me? This is all about the caller. The specifics are somewhere in knowledge space…!

“I consult with users on strategy… best results possible.” And? What do “best results possible” look like? “I have a few things….” What are they and how will they help me in my business? Why do I need to call you back?

Any time you write, your readers want to know what’s in it for them, why take the time to read the information, or what actions will benefit them? Also, paint a picture for them or they’ll visualize something entirely different:” best possible?” “few things?” “strategy?”

It’s all about your readers! Here’s to you! Happy writing.

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“No Problem”

Me: “Thank you.”
Other person: “No problem.”

How did “no problem” become the go-to response for “You’re welcome,” “my pleasure” or “anytime”?

Do you expect the person holding the door for you, the person who picks up something you dropped, or any other “courteous” jester to be a problem? I don’t.

Let’s keep “You’re welcome,” and other responsive pleasantries in our language and do away with “no problem.” It seems more of a positive response instead of a “problem.” Agree?

A young man held the door for me when I was going into the bank, “Thank you,” I said, he said, “Yes!” That seemed more suitable to “no problem.”

We have enough real “problems” in our daily lives without thinking that someone who’s being kind or courteous thinks what they did was initially a problem.

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False Subjects

Karen writes to her co-worker: “I get the feeling that you’re confused about the new  project.” She could eliminate those first five words  and get straight to the subject of her sentence: “Does the new project confuse you?” Eleven versus six words.  This beginning is called a false subject.

There are several ways we can tackle the situation.” Again, a false subject: “there are….” Start with the subject and your sentences are not only shorter and to the point, but they get right the matter at hand. Start, “We can tackle this situation in several ways.”

False subjects can also appear in the middle of a sentence: “We decided that there were some mistakes that needed to be deleted.”Better: “We decided that some mistakes needed to be deleted.” Best: “We decided to delete the mistakes.”

False subject: “It is likely that the appointee may not qualify for the job.
True subject: “The appointee may not qualify for the job.”

False subject: “There is a book I want you to read.”
True subject: “I want you to read Crisis Management.”

Yes, “there is/are” or “it is” are needed in your sentence structure: ” It’s raining.” “There are the two women from work.”  “There’s the building I’ve been looking for.”

Getting rid of your false subjects enhances and clarifies your writing.

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How much are you Contributing

How much time do you waste reading incomprehensible documents? How much is your time worth?

One of the first tasks most of us do when we get to the office is open our e-mails: what’s happened, who needs what, where do I need to be, and/or when do I need to get a report, memo, letter, etc. to someone? Then we respond or go to our Word document and start or continue writing our reports, memos, letters, briefs, etc. Reading and writing, reading and writing, reading and writing take up a majority of our time. Managers, engineers, attorneys and other highly paid workers spend approximately 85 percent of their time writing.

Are your documents written well? clearly? Are they comprehensible and concrete? Are they 100 percent error-free? It may take more time – maybe up to an extra half-an-hour – to re-read and proof what you’ve written, and it’s a savior for both your readers and your bottom line. Don’t you wish everyone who wrote policy and procedure manuals, instructions, directions and daily missives would not only write clearly and concretely but re-read and proof?

American businesses lose almost $400 billion, yes, with a “b,” annually because of sloppy and misunderstood documents. How much does your company contribute to this astronomical cost?

A study from the College Board of American found that companies spend $3.1 billion, again with a “b,” on remedial writing training – annually! $2.9 billion of that is spent on current employees, not new hires. How much do you contribute to that bottom line?

Re-read your website home page: does everyone who’s not in your industry understand what you do? Do you write what’s important for your readers? Do the instructions for your new launch of your software, your mechanical parts, your business or your product conjure up the pictures you want your readers to “see”? If not, then re-write them. Write in concrete words; words that your readers can visualize. All readers “see” something different in each document, manual, brief or letter that you write, but at least if they can “see” something it’s 10-fold better than a foggy or blank visual.

How much did the last e-mail from one of your sales reps contribute today? How much did your letter to your Board contribute? Are you losing money because your team, your manager, your staff or other writes incomprehensible documents?

When you want and need a refresher course, an intensive day or two of writing and back-to-basics let me know; I want to help you.

Stop your business from contributing to that $397 billion loss.

Dee@DeeDukehart.com

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Good Intentions

“I’m going to start my diet Monday.” Then Monday arrives and you find an excuse…!

“I’m going to write every day for at least 15 minutes.” The next time you look at the calendar, a week or two has passed.

“Those eager prospects are only 10 or 11 numbers away, or at least an e-mail away. I’ll get to them and 10 more this week.” Wow, those numbers and e-mail addresses seem to have gone the way of the pet rock.

“The new employee needs me to pay attention to her questions; I’ll be more available and accommodating.” But alas, you become bogged down in minutia and don’t really get to her.

What causes you/us to set up those intentions – write them down even – and yet not take action? Maybe we do get to a percentage of them, and yet, let the others fade away like fog.

Are you committed to personal and professional growth? I know I am, and yet…! It’s as if my fingers have anathema to the phone or Google. Why? I wish I knew the answers.

 

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Your “Send” Button: First Place or No Place to your Reader?

First Place

Are your e-mails in first place or no place with your readers?

I know you’ve felt the elation of pressing the “send” button when you finished your proposal: Relief!  Your long-awaited article is ready: “send.” Your resume and cover letter are nurtured and massaged: “send.” Your report’s done: “send.” You press the “send” button dozens, sometimes hundreds, of times a day to get your messages across to your clients, co-workers, prospects, friends and family. That one button carries your message around the globe in minutes, and all is well with the world! You hope!

Computers and mobile devices are made for the “send” button. Both personal and professional missives convey your sentiment, concerns, information, questions and answers to others, and the recipients interpret them as they will.

What would you do without the “send” button?

Write like a winner: First place in your readers’ hearts and minds. Give them solid and salient information.

No Place

But alas, all of us have blushed with embarrassment when we press the “send” button and it has one or more of the following:

  1. Typos
  2. Sent to “all” unintentionally
  3. Not quite finished
  4. Sent to the wrong person

I know some companies have a “call back” tool for an e-mail when necessary, but only if the recipient hasn’t opened it. Not all companies have that luxury.

This morning I received a daily message from a spiritual leader that had a typo: “…Listen, be still. Car you hear?…” I’m certain that’s not what he wanted to convey!

I found out that I was unceremoniously taken off a project before the client informed me. How? The client sent a “reply all” e-mail with that information in it and I was in the “all.” Referring to me, “She doesn’t know yet….” Well, yes, I thought, I do now. How awkward! How embarrassing! How unprofessional!

My client sent a response to my feedback and the body of his e-mail was empty! He sent a second e-mail, “Sorry, I pressed the “send” button unintentionally.” I actually just did that about an hour ago!

Have you ever gotten an e-mail back from a person who politely says, “I think you mistakenly sent this to me”? How many times do you type in the name(s) of the recipients and don’t double check that the names and addresses are correct?

None of us is immune to sending e-mails before we’ve proofed, and we find out later about our mistakes. Some are minor errors, others….

Be a First Place Writing Winner

Obliterate your “no place” e-mails when you take these steps before you send:

  1. Proof, proof and re-proof
  2. Reread
  3. Rewrite
  4. Care about your reader
  5. Care about your message
  6. Clarify your information
  7. Make salient and concrete points

If you don’t have time to proof it, when will you have time to either re-do it or make amends for your mistakes?

Pause before hitting your “reply all” button– unless it’s intentional, and take time to check your subject line and recipients.

Your name is at the top of your e-mails.

Celebrate First Place! 

It feels good to send well-written and correct proposals, reports, resumes, letters and other information off to the right people. This highlights your e-mail in first place.

For better writing for your team, I’m here to help you. I conduct ½ and full-day writing workshops; they help your team and you!

Call – 303-753-1111 or e-mail Dee@DeeDukehart.com.

If you’d like a complementary “Quick Guide for Better E-Mails,” contact me at one of the above.

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Give Your Next Presentation with E’s

“Please make this worth my time. I need to take come good tools away from this presentation.” You’ve most likely thought these thoughts when you’re about to go into a training or presentation. You want substantive information that’s beneficial and valuable to your work and you. When you’re giving the training or the presentation know that your audience members are thinking the same; they need and want tools, tips and techniques to implement – immediately.

These four E’s propel your topic and its stickiness.

  1. Educate: Address your topic with educational information. Be specific in the material’s value to your audience. Facts, figures, data, testimonials and reasons create the groundwork for your topic. Give your audience the steps to take to help gain the knowledge or habit – or both.  What tools do you want them to take away?  If they remember nothing else, what one tool is paramount for their success? Repeat the steps that will make the difference in their work. Take your time; your audience needs that time to assimilate the information. Speak slowly. Less is more; no need to give them every tidbit you’ve learned along the way.
  2. Enlighten: Why take these tools away? What will this education do to help build confidence, make more money, get better results, manage their day, give them more time, take less time…. Multiple facets of your topic will be beneficial when you explain the reasons behind the information. Tell them why the topic is important to their everyday tasks.Clarify, specify and verify your points. 
  3. Engage: Show don’t tell. Stories. Questions. Involvement. Share success and failure examples, and ask for their examples too. Ask provocative questions and repeat the answers. When audience members ask questions, repeat the question for the other audience members. Have fun PowerPoint slide quizzes – compelling visuals; these help the audience retain the information. Images stay with your audience longer than words.
  4. Entertain: You don’t have to be a “funny” person or a stand-up comic to entertain your audience. Sight a humorous personal experience that’s germane to the topic. Show funny slides. Use fun/funny props. Self-deprecating humor is a sure winner!

The four E’s are easy to implement into and empower your topic. It’s all about ease!

For more in-depth training on your next training or presentation, please contact me: Dee@DeeDukehart.com or call: 303-753-1111. I’m here to help.Dee

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