Today is all about communication! When I was thinking about my day and the various communication I had to do just before 2 p.m., it really got me thinking about these time-saving tips for communication. These tips will help you pack in as much as you can into your day and hopefully, allow extra time so you can communicate more.View the Episode Goodie Bag >> Hosted By
Today is all about communication. There has been a lot of communication going on in my life today. It started with a run with my good friend in the morning. It's pretty much just social hour at 5 a.m. Then I came downstairs and I batched my podcasts. I’ve already had to communicate with my kids, dogs, and I even had to communicate with a snake on my front porch. I carried him off to the side yard to tell him to go on and get out of my life so that my kids can actually play. I've been in my email. I've been in text. I've been in messenger. I've been on Facebook. Whoa, communication city, right? All this stuff got me thinking about these time-saving tips for communication. So I'm going to share with you eight of the ways that I figure out how to pack all that stuff into a day before it's even two o'clock and still get my job done.
Before I dig into these eight time-saving tips for communication the very first thing that you have to know if you're going to try to save time with communication is yourself. The second thing that you have to know is your audience. I know that sounds totally crazy, but here's the deal. Think about the number of times you've had to approach someone that you know well about something they're going to freak out about. That is what knowing your audience is.
For example, my husband comes up to me and says, Monica, I'm going to talk to you about something right now and I was really hoping that you would promise me that you aren’t going to get mad at me. And I say, that sort of depends on what we're going to talk about. Now, he knows me, and he knows what I'm gonna get upset about. He knows the things that he can text me, he knows when he needs to talk to me in person. He knows how I'm going to react because he knows me. That's knowing your audiences. Now, you also have to know yourself and your own tendencies as a communicator and how you communicate best. If it takes you a really long time to text somebody, then don't text them because it's going to take you forever.
If you're not good at composing an eloquent email about a touchy subject: don't. If you're not good on the phone under pressure, move on to a different way to do it. If you understand how you communicate best, that's something you can lean into. So every time you enter into a communication challenge, think to yourself, what tools do I have available that I can use to best communicate to my audience what I need them to hear.
Tip number one is bring a translator, maybe bring a buffer. Bring another person if you need another person there.
One of the things you can do to save time is not to have the same conversation twice. So for example, when I used to work for the family business, sometimes I would have clients that were super detail-oriented and I knew they were going to ask me all kinds of questions and I was going to give them big picture answers. So I would bring my brother with me. Now, my brother is much more detail-oriented than I am. He would understand because he spoke their language. We would tag team, he could have part of the conversation and I could have the other. That made it go much faster.
Another example is, let's say you have a tech person and you're getting ready to build a website. If you know your tech person is going to be updating the website and has opinions you care about, then they should come to the meeting to begin with. Bringing people in at the start is going to save you so much time in future communications.
My last example is if you have multiple decision-makers, all the people who need to be in the meeting, need to be in the meeting. You can bring a translator, you can bring a sidekick, you can bring all the right people to the meeting. That is going to save you time in the long run.
Tip number two is use video. Everybody writes countless emails, they send so many texts, yet they have so many other ways they can communicate this information. I ran into this pretty much the hard way. I was reviewing client accounts and marketing data. It's really exciting for me, but apparently not nearly as exciting for everyone else. I was typing up emails for every account. It was taking forever. I mean, honestly, it probably took me 30 minutes or more for each email, sometimes longer. Then I realized I could start dictating these emails. So that did save me some time and that is tip number three, but I'm not there yet.
My first progression towards problem-solving is people need to get marketing data, and I need them to listen to what I have to say. So I have to find a way to make this email writing faster, but the real challenge was I was using the wrong form of communication. I got into a client's account and I opened up the email I sent and I thought, who the heck would ever want to read this thing? It is terrible.
For all the time I had spent composing this email, I didn't even want to read it myself. There were so many words, all blobbing together on the page; there were like three paragraphs combined with numbers. It was all technical and terrible. So I thought to myself, why in the world am I typing up an email when I could just share my screen, show my face, and have a conversation with them. They can see the data I'm looking at and we can go over it quickly.
Now I won't lie. There were a couple at the beginning where I was really nervous about being on video. The videos turned out terrible and took a long time, but once I got into the swing of it, they took me way less time to make. It takes me between five and seven minutes to make them after five minutes worth of research. I cut my time down by a third.
My clients were overjoyed. They thought it was amazing like I'd given them a Christmas present or something. When in actuality, I was just trying to save myself time. The reason it was like a Christmas present is because I use the right mode of communication to be able to get the message across to them.
The service I use for screen sharing is called Loom. It puts you in this cute little circle on the page and you can share your screen. Another thing I use this for is to explain a complicated topic. Instead of making someone read a textbook, I just turn on the screen share and explain it to them like I would if they were sitting in front of me.
Last but not least, I also use it when I go over a sales estimate because then I explain what each part of the sales estimate is. Since my clients are really busy, it's difficult to get them on the phone for this conversation. Instead, I can just share my screen and go through everything on video.
With Loom, I just copy the link and email it to them. They don't have to log in or download anything! My clients just click on it, it loads in Loom, and they can play the video. It’s legitimate, only the people with a link can see the video.
Number three is dictation. This is a huge time saver for me. I began dictating a while ago when I started bringing on more clients and more staff. I'm the art director as well as the CEO, so I've got a lot of people to talk to, and I speak a lot faster than I type. If you're going to use dictation one of the key things is to use a good dictation service and a good microphone. The clearer your voice is going into the dictation service, the better the outcome will be.
The best dictation service I have found is called Otter. It has an app on your phone and also has an online interface and you can dictate into it. You can also upload things to it and it will transcribe them. To use the transcription service, you need a paid account but the dictate is free. It's amazing. I use it all the time! If I have a thought I need to get across, and it's stewing in my head, I open up my Otter app and I start recording.
The other dictation software I use is a Chrome app. It's called Voice In Voice Typing. So the challenge with Otter is I can't just go into my project management software or my email, and click in there and start dictating.
Voice In Voice Typing uses the Google algorithm for voice recognition and lets me use it anywhere online. I can use it to dictate my emails or dictate responses back to my designers about their work. I use it all the time.
Now I'm not saying if you use dictation you're never going to go back and edit because that is so untrue. You are absolutely going to read through it before you send it because what if it says a naughty word? Because that happens sometimes. It can say some really weird stuff. I might be really hungry or not quite right and I'll send an email. I did that the other day and Stacy was cc’d in the email and she came back in and she's like, I think you need to stop dictating now and go eat lunch, Monica because you're not reading your emails. They are weird. So dictation is number three. Try it, especially if you're like me and you're an audio learner. This could be the money spot for you.
Number four is canned responses. I call them canned responses because I use Gmail. However, there are email templates for all kinds of different email programs. Pre-planning always makes sense. Things go faster. We spend so much time thinking through things and planning things and that’s what gets us to point B as efficiently as possible.
For example, we were working on a really big project. It's a sleep therapy training program, all online and people talk back and forth with moderators, reports, all kinds of data. We spent many hours on it. I cannot even tell you how many meetings we had at the beginning. We would get out of the meeting and I would look at Erica and I'd say, I think we're gonna do this next task and we need to check back in because I still don't feel like we know what this client needs to be able to run this program. Now we're almost all the way done through the project and we're at 80% of the budget. This is amazing because I can't tell you how many hours I spent in meetings. But because we spent all that time planning, it allowed us to be able to come in under budget.
So how does this relate to canned responses? How does this relate to email templates? So think through the normal interactions you have with people daily, be it a thank you or anything else. Those are the things you're going to have canned responses for. Think through the emails you get and basically write the same thing every time, canned response. So what I do is I write these canned responses and I make sure it is the most perfect email. Whether it's telling somebody they can't do a guest post on my blog, or telling somebody I want to hire them for a job or not hire them for a job. I do those things over and over again and I don't want to have to rethink through those emails. They take time. So using the templates, I write them out. If they don’t work the way I intended, I adjust them and save the new template. Then I highlight areas in yellow I'm going to have to change every single time to make sure I have the right name, compliment, or the right date in every email.
It saves so much time through our entire web design process too. Our account service people have a whole document filled with every single email template they will use back and forth with the clients because we've been building websites for 15 years. We know what we need to tell people to make sure we don't end up with a gigantic mess on our hands.
So number five, use a calendaring system. A calendaring system is an online service that allows people to pick the time they want to meet with you. If you're setting meetings with multiple people and you have certain time slots that you want to make available, you send a link to the people you're trying to set appointments with. They go out to the system, set the appointment, and boom—it's done.
The one I use is called Calendly. It also allows me to send them a text message reminder, which is awesome! You get to pick what information you gather from them. I'm always going to get their email address, phone number, and ask them if they want a text reminder. You can set the reminder email to automatically send to them. You don't have to check back in. You don't have to confirm your appointment or do the 15 emails it takes to set an appointment.
We use this when we hire people and with consulting appointments, video shoots, all kinds of different things.
Moving on to number six is a screenshot software. So you may not have this problem as much as I do because I deal with visuals, but I have to show people what I'm talking about on a specific website page. We use two different Chrome apps for this. I use qSnap, which will take an entire screenshot of an entire page from top to bottom, not just what I see on my screen, but the whole screen. Lightshot is another screenshot tool that's like the snipping tool. I also use a third one called Greenshot, its a software installed on my computer.
So here's the deal. When you use the snipping tool you have to open it up, click to take your screenshot, select it, and you have to tell it what you want to do next. If I Qsnap, Lightshot or, Greenshot, all I have to do is either click my Chrome extension, and it will do it for me, or I click Print Screen for Greenshot. It takes a screenshot for me and then all of them allow me to mark up the page. I can type on it, I can circle things, make arrows, whatever it is to communicate what I'm trying to do. I don't like the snipping tool because it makes me click three more times. It is not seamless. If you count the number of seconds it takes you to click three more times and you're taking 14 screenshots a day, you've wasted so much time. So find something that will speed up your life and make it go faster.
Number seven, get something that puts your voicemail in your email. My clients are blown away that I get links to vocal recordings in my email from my voice over IP phone. I can be anywhere and I don't even have to log into my phone. I just opened up my email and it tells me I have a voicemail. I click on it. I listened to it and I can call people back. Do it, it's awesome.
Mine even translates what they're saying. It gives me a very short snippet of the actual voicemail so I can read it. Which is great, because then I'm like, ooh, sales call, don't want to talk to that person. Or oh, man, that's Chris. I've been trying to get ahold of him for two weeks. Voicemail to email is awesome.
Last but not least, and this might sound counterintuitive because all these things I've told you except for the very first one, are all about technology. Call, just call people. I can't tell you how many times I've sat in a meeting with an account service person, they can’t reach a client and they have emailed the client 14 times but haven’t called them yet. Know your audience. You have to know how they want to communicate.
So I just said call but what I really should have said was ask or troubleshoot. Take a different turn and try something different. Just the other day, I was communicating on Facebook Messenger with a lady who's amazing. I'm scheduling a podcast with her and she took a really long time to respond. It wasn’t like her because she's super responsive. Finally, I just said, “Hey, is this not the right way to communicate with you? Would it be better if I sent you an email or a text?” And she responded, “Absolutely, that would be so great. If you send me a text, I will respond to you lickety-split. I just am not in messenger all the time.” Ask how they want to be communicated with.
So many people have an enormous amount of call reluctance. They do not want to pick up the phone and talk to people because they feel like they're bothering them. But I'm here to tell you it is so much faster to schedule an appointment with someone on the phone than it is via email. You can even download Chrome extensions like on my RingCentral Phone I have an extension where I go to a phone number, hover over it, and it allows me to call that phone number just by hovering and clicking. I don't even have to open my phone on my computer, I can just click and it dials it for me. So hey, I guess that could be the last bonus tip is putting everybody you need to call into your phone software.
So for example, whenever we bring a new person on the team who's going to be working with clients, we export all of the client contact information from one of our phones, and we import it into their phone so they know who's calling. They can just type in a person's name, and then their contact comes up. Anytime you can create a quick fix. It will absolutely save you time for communication.
Those are your time-saving tips for communication. Just think ahead and know yourself. Know what you do well, know what communication you're comfortable with. Then really think about your audience, how are they going to best interpret the information? Remember, knowing your audience is like knowing your spouse, knowing how they're going to react to something, and then understanding how to present it to them in a way that it will be received in the best light.
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