Archive for the ‘Quick Tips’ Category

Breaking-up with Email is Hard to Do!

May 18th, 2011 1 comment

breakingup Have you had one of those days, where the day passed you by?  OK… I had one of those days recently.  In a minute of despair, I looked to my reflection in the computer monitor – and I all I saw, was my email inbox looking right back at me.

Ahhhhh Haaaaaa!!!

As I pondered my day’s ineffectiveness, it occurred to me the problem was staring me right back – email.  It’s true… It just looks at me.  The moment I take my eyes off of it (or dare open another application), it beeps and shows the arrival of yet another email to be “handled.” If email were human, I’d equate it to a jealous friend.

But is my email really to blame?  I say NO!!

It’s not you email.  It’s me.  I think we just need some time apart.  I’m not ready to call it quits. I do think we need to take some time throughout the day for us to take a break.  Maybe we could hang out with some of our other friends (e.g., “goals”, “project deliverables” and “strategic initiatives”, etc.).  I admit having some time away would also allow me get out and talk to people about their development goals or provide some coaching.  And just because I see other friends… well – it doesn’t mean we can’t spend a lot of time together.  Alright, I admit I’ll also use other applications.  But only I as I need to.  In the end, I will start my day (and end it) with you (email).

OK, OK, OK.. Maybe this is sounding too much like a petty high-school breakup letter.  You get the point (maybe you laughed a little too). Read more…

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Make an Impact – Create a Memorable Message (with your clothes on)

March 16th, 2011 2 comments

How do you create a message ensuring your ideas are understood, remembered, and are impactful?

Regardless if you’re talking to a small group of employees, internal counterparts, direct reports or customers – having your message stand out is critical to your success in making an impact.

Below are a few perspectives to communicate your messages in a way people will remember (and yes…please keep your clothes on)message_man!!

Keep it simple: Find your core message, keep it simple and singularly focused.  Sentences are better than paragraphs. Two bullet points are better than five. And easy words are better than hard words.  Same goes for presentations – 3 slides are better than 5. {note: this does not mean to cut down on material to keep it short.  It means make sure your message is focused and communicated in the most concise way possible.}

Lead with the End: When presenting a message, start (and finish) with the punch line.  That is let people know what they should take-away from the message, as well as any expected actions.  Too many times, we wait until the end to unveil the “Ta-Da” moment.  Starting a message with a clear signal of what you want, will allow the receivers to process the information using a different set of “ears”.

Be specific: Abstract messages are rarely remembered.  The more specific a message, the more likely people will understand what you mean and are trying to achieve.  In Chip Heath’s book, Made to Stick, he outlined a story about Boeing’s effort to launch the 727 passenger plane.  He compared the goal of “the best passenger plane in the world” to the goal of “The 727 must seat 131 passengers, fly nonstop from Miami to New York City, and land on Runway 4-22 at La Guardia.”  Having a more specific message of what Boeing wanted to achieve, allowed an organization of thousands to get behind what needed to be done to design the 727.

Tell ‘em why they should care: People remember things when they care about them.  This is equivalent to answering the question, “What’s in it for me?”  Some call this the higher purpose message or the rally cry.  In the end, if you want your message to be remembered – tell them why they should care.

Tell a story: Stories are easier to remember than a set of facts.  Stories can also make a message more tangible and personal.  It could be an anecdote.  It can be a story of how someone overcame a similar challenge. Perhaps a story through the lens of a customer.  Either way, the story should connect the audience with the core message (which is simple, right?).

QUESTION: How do you ensure that your messages are remembered?

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Most Important Tasks: Laser Focusing Your Day

January 31st, 2011 2 comments

shootingtarget I was recently inspired by a post outlining the concept of MITs (aka -  Most Important Tasks).  Most Important Tasks are the most critical activities you identify and complete before the end of the day. 

By treating MITs as tasks which must be absolutely and unequivocally completed before you wrap-up your day, you will ensure you’re making constant and forward progress on the most important things.

Here are a few additional thoughts around adding MITs to your daily routine: Read more…

How to Shave Strokes Off Your “Productivity” Game – A Guide to Microsoft Shortcut Keys

January 14th, 2011 Comments off

keyboard Whether I’m working, managing my personal files or writing this blog, I spend a great deal of time in front of the computer each day.  And I’ll do anything I can to not use my mouse.  This blog post will highlight some of the Microsoft shortcut keys I find the most useful as I move through my day.

The first and last application I open and close each day is Microsoft Outlook.   I manage my personal life and my work life (e.g., email, calendar, task management, notes, etc.) through Microsoft Outlook.  In addition, I’ve tried a couple of task management systems that leverage the advanced features of Microsoft Outlook (especially tasks).  I’ve tried Total Workday Control Using Microsoft Outlook and Getting Things Done (aka GTD).  Both are great, and I highly recommend that you check them out!

Below are some of the shortcut keys I have found the most valuable… Read more…

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Email Writing Tip: Say What You Want First!

December 17th, 2010 12 comments

I wanted to share a tip I received a number of years ago, which has greatly improved my business writing style and effectiveness. The simple tip is …. use the first sentence to clearly and concisely tell your reader what you want them to do with the email you are sending. That’s it – pure and simple!

Let’s take a look at two examples of an email I put together. Both emails are asking for the same thing. The first is what I would call an average email, while the second I would consider vastly improved by making one small change.

Read more…

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