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1994 is calling, and it wants to talk

Nearly 25 years… that is how long it has been since I graduated college. With all of my post-collegiate experience in public relations and marketing, my work has allowed me to grow professionally, learn from influential mentors, make a few mistakes and do some very cool stuff. One thing that has remained constant is our need to communicate with one another to make things happen. How it’s done may have changed over the years, but the end game – what is said equals what is heard – has never been more in jeopardy.

Let’s dial it back 25 years. We have to remember social media didn’t exist, the Internet was still on dial-up, and not everyone had a computer in their hand. This was life before email marketing, Facebook, smartphones, chat, Google, webinars, podcasts, etc. These tools have altered how we speak, when we talk with people and to whom we tell specific topics. While the rules of the game regarding how we communicate have shifted the last quarter of the century, there are four mantras I have found critical to successfully communicating.

Be responsible

You need to own your words. Words are powerful, and they can make or break a person or business. In today’s world of 24/7 news, you never know when something is going to go viral. Also, remember words, images and video can live forever on the world wide web.

Be respectful

Daily, social media illustrates the ugly side of the power of words. If you wouldn’t say it to someone’s face, do not post or publish electronically. Respect demands respect. If you want it, don’t forget to give it. This also goes for those still learning the ropes. Never assume you know everything. Some of us have been around the block, and if you just ask first, we are typically willing to offer opinions or share our knowledge.

Be authentic

This is key. Now more than ever, authenticity is critical to the success of anything we do, professionally AND socially. If you aren’t genuinely concerned, don’t fake it. It will come back to bite you. Also, in a moment of crisis, it is ok to say, “let me get back to you.” Taking a minute to fact check before actually responding will do wonders for you as a professional. Authenticity drives connection.

Keep it simple

Say what you mean and mean what you say. Gone are the days where people turned to industry jargon to sound intelligent. No one wants a dissertation. They want to understand you. Talk to your audience and do so simply and effectively. This is especially true for those in complex industries. If you can explain something to a six-year-old, you should be able to tell it to anyone.

Today, we have many communications tools at our fingertips, but always remember your audience wants to hear from you, a person; not an email, a tweet, a post, or a soundbite, people want to hear from YOU. The power of authentic words has never been greater, we have the ability to connect like never before if we are responsible and keep it real, respectful and simple.