For this year’s event program, SLA NY’s Professional Development Chair, Tom Nielsen, came up with a new idea – “Community Conversations”. These would involve short presentations by a panel of speakers, followed by facilitated discussion and Q&A, with some time for general networking before and after.
Last week I attended the third in the series (I also went to the first, but don’t seem to have blogged about it), and it was an excellent evening. The theme of the event was value-added communication, with panellists Davis Erin Anderson, John Tomlinson and Cheryl Yanek.
I generally think I’m quite good at communication, but this evening taught me all sorts of useful things, and what follows are my brief notes from the presentations and subsequent discussion.
Davis – excellent design
- cluster similar information
- focus on alignment
- build unity through repetition
- create visual interest through contrast (eg. different sizes / colours for headline text)
- select colours wisely
Recommended reading: The non-designers design book by Robin Williams
John – cutting through the clutter
- write so it’ll be at least skimmed, and then understood and actioned
- keep it brief and punchy
- front-load content (unless talking to sceptics, when you need to lead them in)
- provide entry points and direction – headings, quotes, images, bullet points
- repeat key words/points/concepts, and vary rhythm
Cherie – listen to your users, and give them what they want
- do they know what you have – are your communications being read / used?
- be approachable, friendly
- ask for feedback, and listen to it
- evolve your products accordingly
- BUT, be sustainable, have procedures for keeping your info products up to date
- move from ‘just in case’ and/or ‘just in time’ to ‘saving time’ – make sure your stuff is useful
- for longer emails consider using a synopsis and read-more links format
- pay attention to design/layout even in emails
- remember to translate acronyms
- if you want responses, ask specific questions
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