Become a Brilliant Communicator

Become a
Today’s Communicators
Andrew Krzmarzick
Hannah Ornell
GovLoop Community Manager
GovLoop Graduate Fellow
[email protected] | @krazykriz
[email protected] @hsornell
When Office Communications Go Terribly Wrong
The Ad That Turned Blunder to Brilliance
Communication Gaffes Happen
“Communication by email for me is the likeliest
source for miscommunication. Between being
misunderstood because of misread tone or
address error, the possibilities are great.
Although I cannot note a specific
miscommunication, I know I have double checked
my sent box a dozen different times after a sudden
fear that I may have inadvertently replied to the
"wrong" person.”
Communication Gaffes Happen
“While working as a young supervisor, I was miffed by an
employee’s lack of follow through on a specific task. I,
angrily, left her a message on her dry erase board, for her
only to see the next day. Rethought the delivery of this
communication (as opposed to more professionally
speaking with her directly), so I went to erase the message
and discovered I had used permanent marker. Ugh. Had to
cover the secured dry board with paper until new one
could be installed. This incident taught me a lot, to say the
Top 5 Office Communication Challenges
1. When Informal Is Abnormal: Tips for Email
2. When Voicemail Isn’t Enough: Tips for Telephone
3. When Islands Are Isolating: Tips for Feedback
4. When Time Is Too Short: Tips for Meetings
5. When Colleagues Are Quirky: What Would You Do?
1. When Informal is Abnormal
Challenge: How formal do I need to be when using
communication technology like email, IM, texting and
social media outlets (Facebook, Twitter, blogs) in a
professional setting?
1. When Informal is Abnormal
• The Wall Street Journal reports that
poor grammar is increasingly an
issue in the workplace
• Study by the Society for Human
Resource Management and AARP:
most respondents blame young
workers for this trend
• However, with younger generations on
the forefront of communication
technologies, they may have developed
a new norm of informality
1. When Informal is Abnormal
• Remember: your email represents your agency
• Start formal, then react to respondents’ tone
• Use signature blocks so people can follow-up
• Leave “Sent from iPhone/BlackBerry”
• Avoid sending work emails after hours (schedule if you do)
• Take a break from email; check at set intervals
2. When Voicemail Isn’t Enough
Challenge: How do I ensure the meaning of my message
gets across when I’m using technology?
2. When Voicemail Isn’t Enough
Phone Miscommunication Lands a Family in Court
2. When Voicemail Isn’t Enough
• Don’t just jump right in with business
• Start with a warm-up:
 “How’s your day going?” or
 If you know of another project the person is
working or something personal, ask about that
2. When Voicemail Isn’t Enough
• Have an agenda in mind; jot it down, stay on task.
• If it’s a scheduled call, allot a time limit for it.
• Got a call that’s going long?
• Say you have another meeting / ask when
you can continue later (or shift to email).
• Get a call when you’re under a deadline?
• Ask to schedule to a later time.
2. When Voicemail Isn’t Enough
• Summarize what you discussed
state action items:
I will do x, y and z. You will do a and b by ____.”
• Make sure the “business” part is over
• ask “is there anything else I can help you with?”
3. When Islands Are Isolating
Challenge: We underestimate the power of positive
and constructive feedback as a motivator. How can we
more effectively give and receive feedback at work?
3. When Islands Are Isolating
You don’t need to take the team…
…to motivate your employees.
…to a retreat in paradise…
It just takes some feedback.
3. When Islands Are Isolating
• Recognition for a job well done is a
powerful motivator
• People want to improve, so don’t
hesitate to offer constructive criticism
• Be specific. What exactly did they do?
• Avoid email / chat: too impersonal
• Hand-written notes = rare, but respected
• Give feedback in person, when possible.
 Do so publicly as appropriate
 Use video if remote
3. When Islands Are Isolating
• Say “thank you.”
• Listen to understand.
• Don’t get defensive.
• Ask questions to get specificity.
• Give it serious consideration.
• Do something about it.
• The only person you can change = YOU!
• Make it easy for people to give feedback:
• Office hours, “tip” box, email address, incentives
4. When Time Is Too Short
Challenge: Have you ever left a meeting feeling like
your time would’ve been better spent at your desk?
Me, too. How can you make meetings worthwhile?
4. When Time Is Too Short
Here’s a failed meeting example we all know: the Super Committee!
4. When Time Is Too Short
• Begin and end on time.
• Arrive early with all necessary materials
• Circulate an agenda beforehand
• Take a break at minimum every two hours
• Only have meetings when necessary:
• Pssst…it’s okay to cancel!
• Avoid holding meetings during people’s
most productive hours
4. When Time Is Too Short
• Don’t accept calls or texts
during a meeting.
• Don’t sit down – seriously.
• If you (must) have a PowerPoint,
make it visually interesting
• Meetings with a clear leader or time keeper move quicker
• they can keep the team on track
5. Application: When Colleagues Are Quirky
• Get in groups of 4-5 people
• Read the scenario and ask
yourself: what would you do?
• Select one or more of the
communication vehicles
• Plan your response to the
• Bonus: use 4-5 of the tips
you’ve learned today.
• Assign a spokesperson to
share with the larger group.
“Much unhappiness has come into
the world because of bewilderment
and things left unsaid.”
- Fyodor Dostoevsky
Thank You!
Andrew Krzmarzick
Hannah Ornell
GovLoop Community Manager
GovLoop Graduate Fellow
[email protected] | @krazykriz
[email protected] | @hsornell

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