We live in a fast paced world where the right information is literally at our fingertips. All too easily, we can be overwhelmed by vast amounts of data, communication information, directives and much more. If we’re not careful, we suddenly will lose our direction while swimming through data that we can’t interpret or analyze in its current state. Be it in an email to a coworker, comments on a work order or simply your everyday communications, how do you know when enough is enough?
1) Would you read it again?
You’ve just completed writing a novella to your coworker in regards to the latest project you are collaborating on. You used spell check, but you should probably give it a once-over. Are you going to read everything you wrote again? No? Your coworker probably isn’t either. Why is this? Is it because of the length of your writing? It could be. Often times, context and supplemental information can be critically important. Other times, however, the recipient of your dissertation doesn’t need all of that information, just the right information. In fact, they may be more inclined to skim over the email or document and miss parts they might need than if you had written only what they needed to know to begin with.
2) Know your Audience
Once you identify your target audience, you can determine what sort of information they need. If you’re providing a high level status of a project to your manager, that’s all they’re really looking for. If you’re passing off a task to a coworker, they’re going to need more of the nitty gritty details. Likewise, if you are presenting on the success of a project you worked on, be sure to know how much detail is appropriate. If the organizer is highlighting your work, they may ask you for an in-depth discussion of your methods, errors, revisions and successes. If you are one of many presenters, it may be better for you to just go over the salient points, and allow the audience to ask any questions they care about in a Q+A section.
3) Cup, Bucket, or Trough
There are three types of people: cup people, bucket people, and trough people. While your audience may be your network team, each person operates differently.
Some people want a cup worth of information and they will tune you out as they sit there savoring that “cup” of information while other people after a cup of information will still be thirsty. The “bucket” individuals will want more of a “meal” of information to digest and discuss with you. Finally, “trough” people will want a full feast of information presented to them. Unlike the audience section above, you may not be able to just create one of these methods and be done with your assignment. You need to know when each method is applicable, while also being cognizant of which group you are giving which amount of information too.
Pro tip: this also cuts down on communication conflicts.
Keep it simple and straightforward. Need I say more?
I shouldn’t, but I will a little bit. Have you been in a complicated or disorganized presentation? By the end, you may have found yourself completely lost and thinking, “I learned nothing in that hour-long meeting.” So, what can be done?
Well, all of your presentations should be ran by someone that is unfamiliar with the assignment. This way, an impartial viewer can accurately determine whether your organization makes sense and can be followed. They can also help you realize where you are going off-subject, or where you can trim to cut down on time. KISS!
5) When in doubt… bullet points.
Bullet points are usually a lot easier to read than when you have a bunch of text strewn all over the comments of your emails or notes because if I just kept rambling here you would probably get annoyed or start to zone out thinking about your dinner when you get home. Without realizing it, you’ll have not been paying attention and then begrudgingly read over the section again. Is that your fault? Not necessarily, maybe the author should have determined the appropriate context – like bullet points.
- Consolidate your information
- Provide a visual “snap-to” in emails
- No punctuation necessary
Now you know how to properly cut down on your right information, tailor it to the audience and make it as memorable and easy to read as possible. Go forth and happily read and prepare information for your job and see how free you feel! Not unlike personal communication, your fleet management information can get overwhelming if you aren’t looking at it or preparing it properly. Make sure you design and run the appropriate reports, and that you dissect that information based on your audience.