Tips and training
Tips for communicating
Staff and students receive lots of information every day, from various authors, via various channels. The following tips will improve your chances of being heard.
Timeliness and interest
Communications need to be timed to coincide with audience interest in the message, and appear on channels where they're looking for that kind of information.
Clear required action
The action that we want our audience to take needs to be obvious and easy to act on.
Online content needs to be succinct, accessible (information is on the page, not in a PDF) and searchable by their terms, not ours. With few exceptions, communications in other channels should link through to our websites.
Choose the right communication channel
Choosing the right channel is influenced by the audience, the content of the message and the reach of the channel. A message for all staff on a university-wide initiative works well in the staff newsletter, whereas a message that needs to go to a select audience within a faculty may work best on email. Strengthening your message with leadership endorsement may also be helpful.
Consider the following:
- What do you want to say?
- What’s your key message?
- What do you want to achieve?
- Who do you want to speak to and reach?
- What’s the best way to reach people – email, mobile, newsletter?
- What does the audience need or want to know?
- Why should they care?
- What do you want people to think or do because of the communication?
- Is there someone who can help deliver your message to create more impact, such as an Executive or subject expert?
- Is there any other context you need to be aware of here?
- What’s the timing?
- Who holds the responsibility for getting the message out? Who should be consulted, and who provides final approval?
Group Marketing can also help you develop a Communications plan.
- Be brief and to the point
- Put the most important information first
- Remember you can always point people to a link with more information
- Up to four sentences to a paragraph
- Use active rather than passive writing
- If your message is longer, use headings, sub-headings, paragraphs, and bullet points to make it more readable
- Avoid jargon and technical terminology
- Proofread for spelling and punctuation errors
For more help with effective writing techniques, check out The Macquarie University Style Guide. It also explains how to write in the Macquarie style. The University has some useful rules for writing consistent copy. The guide covers how to consistently write:
- contact details
The style guide also defines some commonly-used terms and explains the University’s rules for the use of grammar and punctuation.
Many communications-themed training workshops are available through HR’s Staff Skills Development. Courses include:
- Improve your emails with powerful content that achieves better cut-through and motivates your audience to take action.
- Find the balance between what you need to say and what our staff and student audiences want to hear.
- Specially tailored course by highly regarded industry expert for Macquarie staff, particularly those emailing many staff and students.
- Refresh core communication skills including active listening and questioning techniques
- Build effectiveness in communicating clearly, confidently, and assertively with others
- Improve your confidence and effectiveness in communicating with others
- Specialist media training sessions for researchers and academics across the University
- Improve skills to be able to confidently manage media interviews of all descriptions.
- Invitation-only: register an expression of interest by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Communications team on x6766 to discuss
Writing with clarity
- Learn to write complex information in a clear and sensible way without losing accuracy or rigour
- Understand how to write effective emails at work
- Understand how to create a professional and helpful tone and choose the right words
Writing to persuade
- Learn how to present options concisely and in a balanced way
- Understand how to decide what to put in and what to leave out
- Learn two basic structures for presenting a case and develop the skills needed to be more efficient in your writing