The “Better Professional Playbook” (BPP) for Effective Communication
Published: August 26, 2016
Author: Dan Kern
I feel it, can you?? That’s right, football season is right around the corner…and whether you bleed the colors of your college alma matter on Saturdays, your hometown NFL team on Sundays, or your high school squad on Fridays (c’mon, it’s time to grow up and move out of your parents’ basement), we’re all excited for the gridiron action to resume.
In the final stages of training camp, coaches put the finishing touches on their championship-worthy playbooks for the season, sights set on the Lombardi Trophy or National Championship. This got me thinking…for us mere mortals who don’t make multi-million dollar contracts playing a game for a living, what are the key components in our professional playbooks that set us up for championship-level success?
I paired my experience and observations with those of our killer Training team to create just that…. A Better Professional Playbook for effective communication so you’re consistently scoring touchdowns and avoiding costly fumbles. All right! The corporate-Manning film session starts now:
Email: Bread & Butter Run Game
- Sidestep weak openers, e.g.
- “I wanted to” – Yes, clearly….
- “Emailing to let you know” – You mean this isn’t snail mail?
- Lead emails with clearly stated requests
- If the receiver needs more background, they’ll read the body
- Assume that any email over 4 sentences will be skimmed (at best)
- Bold any embedded requests/questions
- Organize your points with bulleted lists and extensive line breaks
- They’re like well-positioned offensive linemen!
- Name your attachment files clearly – Include:
- Client name
- Project description
- Version number, or who edited it if it’s an iteration
- Avoid missing attachments
- Activate email setting that picks up on words like “attached” and flags your email when you try to send without an attachment
- Nothing stops offensive momentum like a False Start!
- Triple-check spelling and grammar
- Download Grammarly for easy backup
- Simple typos are like a brutal holding call on a 25-yd. run
- Enable email recovery! It’s the most powerful audible
Presentation/Verbal: Air Attack
- Distribute meeting materials beforehand
- Got an agenda, screen share link, reports, deck, etc.? Send them to participants at least 15 minutes before the meeting so everyone has access to the materials being presented
- Have an audible for displaying your presentation/materials if something goes awry…
- Dial-in doesn’t work?
- Computer dies?
- Not able to connect to the internet?
- Confirm who is in attendance/on the line – make introductions as necessary
- Don’t forget to dial in remote participants!
- Run through your progressions:
- State the purpose of the meeting
- Outline the agenda
- Confirm what you desire to accomplish by the end of the meeting
- Be patient as you read the defense; pause often
- Ask for questions before changing topics
- Be not afraid of silence
- Make eye contact with your receivers
- Do not look at the projected screen when speaking; this draws the audience’s eyes to the screen with you
- If your audience is half-reading / half-listening, they won’t remember either info source
- Don’t call out the play at the line – In other words, don’t recite slide bullets verbatim
- If you’re reading, your slides have too much text
- Summarize your main points as concisely as possible
- Recognize the whole defense by acknowledging the entire room
- Shift your focus depending on who the content is most important to
- Avoid focusing on your team out of comfort and familiarity
PowerPoint Decks: Trick Plays
- Dash length consistency – Commit to “–“ or “-“
- Title positioning – Use PPT macros
- Text box positioning – Use PPT macros
- Be mindful of spacing, centering, general layout
- Date reference accuracy and consistency
- Consistent bullet types
- Column labels accuracy
- Data consistency – Number of decimals, commas separators, etc.
- Font size and type
- Don’t run garbage plays! (Remove slides that do not add strong value to the story)
Always Applicable/Important: Special Teams
- Avoid passive sayings – Examples:
- You know…
- Can you… – Instead, “WILL you please…”
- Sorry but…
- The real doozy – Really + kinda, sorta
- Frame date ranges appropriately
- If it’s a report of the previous week’s performance, it’s “last week”, not “this week”
- Put yourself in the shoes of the person/people you’re addressing
- Provide background info if necessary
There you have it, the Better Professional Playbook to bring out the Russell Wilson in each of us…. Relentlessly practice these essential moves and a Pro Bowl trip will be all but guaranteed.