Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Details to Polish Your Communication

The Swiss modernist architect Van der Mies is credited with saying "God is in the details". And Sherlock Holmes remarked, "It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important." Both of these men must be assuming that one has got the basics down, obviously an architect cannot design a sound building without mastering basic construction principles. The details are what transform a decent message into an outstanding one. Here are some tips for polishing that paper or presentation:

1. Have someone else read what you've written. It doesn't have to be a grammar expert, just someone willing to read it rather carefully. Ask for their help to make it better. If there is simply no one to ask, read it yourself one more time, when you think you can't bear to read it again. Try to give yourself some time between readings. However, you really need to find a friend who can help you edit your important messages. If it's not written, ask someone to listen to your presentation. That's what friends are for.

2. When you think you're finished, consider add 10% more effort to the project. Ask yourself what can make it better, in any aspect. Can you add another example? Can you look up one more source, add a quote, insert a visual element?

3. Ask yourself what can make your message more visually compelling - whether it's on paper or it's an oral presentation. See if you can find nice paper on which to type your paper. Maybe inserting tasteful clip art can help. Don't go crazy with the fonts- stick to a basic one and add visual interest in a different way. If you are the medium for your message, check out what you'll be wearing. Scrutinize your visual aid to see if you can make it more compelling, more concrete.

The fundamental idea is to put in a little more effort in the end. That's easier to do when you don't wait until the last minute to start. Give it a rest and ask yourself what is the one more thing you can do to make it even better!