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Tweak your communication style to match the tool

(MoneyWatch) You might consider yourself a great communicator, and you might do everything you were taught to do in high school when it comes to crafting great business messages. But the lessons we learned years ago don't necessarily take modern technology into account. Indeed, based on conversations with my daughter, academia still hasn't caught up to the implications of how routine technology like email and voice mail should cause us to tailor our messages.

It's pretty simple, actually, and something I've written about many times before. The Bottom Line Up Front strategy, for example, says that you should "get to the verb" and put the core message of the email in the first paragraph, then spend time developing the background or context afterwards. That's common sense, if you consider the psychology of email. But there's more to it than that.

Specifically, you should tailor the way you communicate so it fits the way people use the technology you're communicating with. For example:

Email. Want your recipient to see your "ask" even before they open your message? Then put it in the very first sentence of the message. That way, it'll appear in the preview that shows in the inbox, or in the "toast" that pops up on the desktop when new mail comes in. If you very specifically craft your email with the bottom line in the first sentence, they'll see it even if they don't click the email right away. As long as it sits unopened in the inbox, they can see what you want.

Voicemail. Don't start with your bottom line. Instead, the very first words out of your mouth should be your name, phone number, and email address. Then, without any other preamble, get to your point. Add details and context third, if at all. Why start with your contact information? Because they'll need to replay the message to find out how to get back in touch with you. Make it the first thing in the message so it's easy and painless for them to hear it a second (or third time) without wading through the rest of the message first.

Do you have any other tips for efficiently structuring your communication to work better with the tech tools you're delivering it with? Sound off in the comments.

Photo courtesy Flickr user Bogdan Siditu

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