The Template

Every week, I maintain THE TEMPLATE, an award-winningWinner of the 2015 Plank Center Award (public relations org.) for commitment to mentorship. blog that's been viewed more than 1.5 million times by people all over the world. In every column, I provide step-by-step instruction to help you become a stronger communicator. Like I always say, "Write well, open doors!"

Want Stronger Communication Skills? Don’t be Like Windows 8

Microsoft’s new operation system, Windows 8, is sleek, modern and totally different from the Windows you know.

Oh, and one more thing.

It’s incredibly difficult to use.

At least, that’s according to several top analysts. The AP even called it ‘baffling’ and says Windows 8 risks ‘confusing and alienating’ customers. The new touch screen apparently has several ‘hidden’ commands that make it difficult to navigate.

Suddenly, Microsoft has a communications problem. Its core message — Windows 8 — isn’t getting through to the audience.

Think about all the emails and proposals you write on the job. How can you make sure that you’re always understood?

1. Get to the Point

What you read up above is (I hope) a good example of ‘getting to the point.’ Every sentence has a purpose and pushes the column along.

The result? You get the information you need as quickly as possible. Writing less doesn’t sacrifice quality; in fact, the strategy enhances it. You can lose a reader with run-on sentences and ones that repeat the same info over and over…and over. State your case and move on.

2. Details Matter

Check the first line of this blog post. It says ‘Microsoft’s new operating system, Windows 8…’

It doesn’t just say ‘Windows 8.’

That’s because you can never assume the reader knows what you’re talking about. Small details make a big difference. If I left out ‘Microsoft’s new operating system,’ you may think Windows 8 is a new phone, PC or tablet.

3. Be Bold

If there’s a point you really want to drive home, put it in bold. Or underline it. Or use italics. You don’t want to overuse any of them, but adding a dash of bold here and there makes a key phrase stand out.

4. Do I Really Need This?

Don’t write a stream-of-consciousness email and click ‘Send’ without looking at it. Take three minutes, check the message for grammatical errors and ask yourself: if I took out this word — or this sentence — would the email still make sense?

If the answer is ‘yes,’ then remove it. The email recipient will thank you.


5. We Have Insanely Short Attention Spans

Strong communication skills make the difference in a world of crowded in-boxes and distracting gadgets.

If an email, blog post or operating system like Windows 8 is confusing, people will check out.

Looks like Microsoft is going to learn that lesson the hard way.

Anyone tested out Windows 8 or seen demos of it? Does it look complicated to you?

Share below!


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