Are your communication skills up to digital snuff? We all know hairstyles and hem lengths change but now styles of expression are also evolving… just like a fashion trend. Do you automatically think “document” or “PowerPoint” when tasked with originating content? If you’re still writing long, linear prose that sits on paper like a lump, chances are you could benefit from a communication makeover. Don’t wait until your boss or client stages an intervention. It’s critical that you communicate in a digital-friendly style.
The art of communication is very different today than it was a mere two decades ago when our access to data was limited. The Internet has altered not only how we get information but also how we express ourselves. Digital technology is re-wiring our brains and reshaping how we communicate. The Internet has turned careful, deliberate readers into hungry information predators. Power scanning, instead of deep reading, is something we all do.
New digital tools make it easier for people to access content. The rise of video, audio, graphics and interactive features gives content producers the ammunition to fight battles in the name of knowledge. Words, pictures, and symbols – the very shape of content – is evolving before our eyes. The written word isn’t going away, but is being transformed. The days of straight running text on paper as our principal means of expressing ideas and delivering information are numbered as new digital tools change our communication landscape. New tools and technologies, along with new attitudes, are changing all that. For some this transformation is liberating… for others, it’s terrifying.
Here are a few suggestions and techniques to help you manage the transition:
Be Interactive and Dynamic… Not Static
Today’s audiences don’t want to merely read about something – they want to experience it. New multimedia tools facilitate a bidirectional dialogue that engages as it informs. Users are taking advantage of new applications that personalize information. Interactive maps and tools that calculate numbers specific to the user’s needs are just a sampling of hands-on applications that make information gathering a more dynamic experience.
Communicate Visually and Limit Text
No one wants to read too much text. Dense paragraphs are like death sentences in the digital world where information is increasingly communicated through visual means. A smart infographic can often tell a story more efficiently than a 1,200 word article.
Communicate in a Nonlinear Way
Digital age denizens want to choose how to experience content on their own – and it’s usually not in a straight line. Users create their own paths to the information they want most – not depending on an author to direct them.
Provide Multiple Entry Points
The users enter into an interface at a point of their choosing. We no longer have to start with the introduction and muddle through an obligatory “up front” discussion before getting to the meat.
Make Your Content Digestible, Not Dense
Forget your 700-page tome; no one’s going to read it. Short, crisp and to the point is how digitally minded audiences like it. People prefer to read no more than 1,000 words at a time.
Engage Your Audiences in a Conversation – Don’t Preach
Social media enables us to engage in conversation, if not debate. This is more appealing than reading an edict written in stone. Interactive applications, too, engage the reader in a way that feels more customized. Craft communications that speak directly to individuals – not an anonymous group of people.
Always be Transparent
Information seekers today believe in transparency. Be truthful and forthcoming. Don’t present yourself as something you are not.
Frank J. Pietrucha is a thoughtLEADERS instructor, communicator and Washington Post bestselling author. His book Supercommunicator: Explaining The Complicated So Anyone Can Understand is available on Amazon. CLICK HERE to get your copy. Learn more about the book at www.supercommunicator.com.