Be Smart About Your Communication
You may have the best intentions and are feeling slammed for time, but if you are not communicating clearly aren’t you just wasting your time? When creating an email, newsletter or another form of communication take some time to consider if people will actually read it.
Digital Communication is an ESSENTIAL 21st Century Skill
As teachers, educators and schools we have a lot of information we need to communicate digitally and most of us have had zero training on how to do this effectively. We need to take the time to learn how to effectively communicate digitally and highly value this as part of what we teach our students so they are ready for the real world.
This is an old school idea referring to newspapers. “The information above the fold” is what you see on the newspaper while it is folded in a stack of papers. How many people walk by the stack of papers only to see the headlines and never see what is below the fold?
The Webpage Fold
The Internet has a fold, it is the point where people have to scroll. Assume people will not scroll. When they open an email or newsletter or webpage what do they immediately see? Make sure this is not wordy and is the most important information.
People Do Not Click on Links
Click here to find out more…. very few people will do that. Consider anything you put under “Click here” will be wasted words. You need to have some good click bait to get that click rate higher and I still argue it won’t be 100%. How are you communicating above the fold that entices the person to want to “Click here for more”?
If there is an attachment attached, especially if the is basically no information in the email about what is in the attachment, I will not open it. There was not enough information making the hassle of downloading and opening an attachment worth it. Also, consider it like a link. If people won’t click on a link they certainly won’t download an attachment.
Usually, I’m on my phone, I want to just quickly open the email, scan for what I want to know and move on with my life. An attachment complicates this desire so essentially the attachment is dead to me.
Use a PDF or Web-based
Do NOT attach Word documents or any other program specific files. Assume your audience is diverse with their tech and may or may not have Office. Using a Google Doc set to “Anyone with the link can view” opens in a browser with no sign in required so that will work. Create a webpage instead of a Word attachment that does not require any logging in or special software. If you have to attach something, use a PDF since it’s universal to any device. It’s still better to provide something web-based than a PDF in my opinion since it doesn’t have to be downloaded.
Name Your Files
If you do attach a file do not have a generic name like “parent info” or “newsletter.” Name them specific enough that when they are downloaded people know what it is that is in their downloads folder.
Images take time to load. Use them sparingly and strategically.
5 Bullet Points
If you have an attachment assume many people will not open it. Include in the body of the email no more than 5 short bullet points that entice the reader to want to learn more by opening the attachment.
Consider many people will access your information on a mobile device that may not be on Wifi, thus a video takes up a lot of data. There are many places where watching a video (sound being the main issue) is not going to work. While I’m in line at the grocery store I can read an email really quick, I can not watch a video. It’s fine to include a video but don’t make any essential information video only.
Just Use Less Words
Be concise. No one wants to read a book. If the email you send me is too long, if I have to scroll… I roll my eyes and think “I’ll read this LATER.” And then it gets buried in my email never to be seen again.
Do Not Over Communicate
If you send too many emails or newsletters or communication you wear people down. Be strategic and value people’s time. If you sent out too often things that people don’t think are important then all your stuff is labeled by the audience as not important.