Communications? What’s the Ask?

Ain’t nobody got time for that! The average attention span has dropped from 12 minutes to 5 minutes in the last decade. There are more mobile devices than people on the planet. Communication has become a competition. We have a lot of things vying for our shortened attention span.

You need to make a point quickly. In basketball, once you are on the shot clock, you have a limited number of seconds to make a play. Wether you know it or not, it’s the same with business communication. You’ve got their attention, now you have a limited amount of time to prompt a response.

Your communication is designed to change behavior, alter moods, or inform about something of interest. In business, when crafting your emails, your questions in a meeting, and your texts; you need to determine what action you want prompt. What do you want your audience to do? What is your ask?

  • I get over 75 emails a day. I prefer people skip the traditional pleasantries and articulate the ask. Know your audience. Learn their preference. For example, think of business email as a “time out” communication. A time out in basketball is fast and quick. The coach tells the team  what’s working, what’s not working, who’s in, who’s, out and what needs to happen next. It’s not a time for sharing history, lunch plans and humorous anecdotes. With email, tell your reader what you want.
  • Sending a business text? Most of us are not in support, so we are not anxiously awaiting a text so we will have something to do. We are working. When texting for work, get your ask out front.
  • We sit in meetings, or lectures where someone asks a rambling question and we are all think, what is your point?  Don’t be “that” person. Articulate your question in your head before you speak. Spare the rest of us. If more information is needed, a discussion will follow. Lead with your ask.

Communication has changed. People have short attention spans and communication is a competition.  Your communication should alter a mood, change behavior or inform about something of interest. Your point should be obvious. Don’t make me work trying to figure out your ask.  Ain’t nobody got time for that.

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