Simple, powerful communications (or “my life’s work in one email”)

17th May 2016

What’s your reason for being on this planet?

I know – that’s a nice, light question for first thing on a Tuesday…

But, seriously, what is it?

I have the usual ones – to be a fab husband and dad, provide for the family, to contribute, etc etc.

But, at work, it’s this:

       To help people communicate better

So I spend all my time working out how to simplify things for you.

And I’ve finally got it down to one word…

In one word – “DO”

The most critical word with communication is DO.

In other words, what you want someone to DO after you’ve communicated with them.

Once you know this, you simply work backwards to create your communication.

In its simplest form, this will begin with “please can you”. For example, want your team to send you their figures for the month? Simply say “please can you send me your figures for the month.”

When you look at your “Please can you” sentence, and you think they’ll probably do the DO, your communication is complete.

In two words – “WILL DO”

With many communications, the one word DO is enough.

But you might also need to say something before your “please can you” sentence, to ensure they will do it – “Let’s make sure you get paid quickly. Please can you send me your figures for the month?”

In three words – “WILL WON’T DO”

Sometimes, you’ll also need to overcome their reasons for not wanting to do the DO – the why-they-WON’T. So, think upfront what these reasons might be. Then, pre-empt and remove them.

“(WILL) let’s make sure you get paid quickly. (WON’T) I know you aren’t fond of paperwork and haven’t the time to do it. So let’s make it easier for you. (DO) Please can you either email me your figures for month? Or, if you prefer, please call me to talk them through.”

And that’s it. For every communication – from a basic one-sentence chat to a complex multi-slide presentation – think:

  • If it’s easy, DO
  • If it’s a bit more involved, WILL DO
  • The most complicated of all, WILL WON’T DO

Let’s use this WILL WON’T DO in today’s Action Point.

Action Point

(WILL) Let’s ensure you achieve more today than you’re expecting to, and take less time than you normally would.

(WON’T) Now I know that you’ll be rushing to something right now, and won’t have the time to properly consider this. But spend 30 seconds prepping this – something you can do on the way to your meeting – and I bet it’ll save you at least ten times that.

(DO) So, please can you look at your next three communications today? Apply WILL WON’T DO to at least one of them (I’d choose the easiest!)

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