As a technologist, being able to communicate ideas is important. We need to send status updates, express designs, and ask questions while executing on all of the above. With the ability to accurately and succinctly communicate ideas you will be far more successful navigating your way through the world of business.
Like it or not, if you’re getting paid to develop or maintain technology, your time is a valuable asset. With your time being valuable to the company where you work, how you spend that time is a strategic decision. Whether you’re designing a new product, supporting production, building a Data Center, or researching new technology, you will need to communicate in order to keep doing what you’re doing.
If you aspire to be in a leadership role, then the requirement for communication increases. If you want to remain an individual contributor, you must still communicate designs, status, questions and answers.
Tips for Communicating Effectively
Below are a few points that can make a difference in how effectively you express ideas:
- Identify your audience. A manager may require less detail than a software engineer working on your design. A written communication cluttered with facts, details and dates will most likely not be read by a recipient who doesn’t have a need-to-know for all that information.
- Do not forward emails. Along the same lines as the point above, don’t forward emails with a series of interchanges below. If you do forward an email with all that information, you should summarize what you send. Don’t assume that the reader is going to read from the bottom up and get value from an expired conversation. Assume that your reader does not have context, or the time to figure out the context.
- Focus on the key point you want to make. When you do sit down to write out your thoughts to someone, focus on the one point that you want to make. If you try to communicate more than once concept, you will begin to lose the reader with each additional concept. I find that is a common issue among technologists. It is very hard to boil down complex topics into a few simple statements. The better you do this, the better your readers will understand.
- Keep your language simple. When you’re describing a complex thought, complex words only make it harder to understand. Keep it simple, short sentences with easy to understand words. I highly recommend “On Writing Well” by William Zinsser. It is a practical, and entertaining book designed to help you become a better writer. Writing is hard, it requires a lot of practice. If you keep at it, you will develop into a good writer who gets their point across successfully. This skill is rewarding in many ways, including personal and professional growth.