Early in my meeting career, I felt that a quick response was what my internal clients, staff, and supplier partners wanted. A quick response may not have included all the details, but it got them an answer (of sorts) and got it off my desk. However, it didn't take me too long to realize that what people really wanted was a thoughtfully crafted quality response, even if it took more time to develop.
These replies not only thoroughly answer all of the questions but may also pose some new ideas to consider. Below are eight tips for quality responses that will improve your communications with staff, stakeholders, and vendors.
Tips for quality responses:
1. If you can't respond immediately, let them know the time frame you will be able to respond.
2. Mirror the style of the email you receive. If the questions are in bullet points, don't send back lengthy paragraphs.
3. Be honest. If you can't do something as requested, don't over commit and under deliver. Provide a realistic option that you can deliver on effectively.
4. Don't use a lot of industry jargon or acronyms. Even if the person you are dealing with knows our "secret language," the people they may be sending the information along to may not.
5. If you are providing a lot of data, consider using a chart or table to make the information as clear as possible.
6. If you are providing summary numbers, show the math in your response. It makes you double check your numbers, and it demonstrates to the reader how you got to the results.
7. Re-read your response out loud to yourself. That is the best way to pick up any misspellings, missing words, or incorrect grammar.
8. Be as succinct and direct as possible. Avoid extraneous words or comments that don't relate to the subject at hand.
Hopefully you will agree that quality responses are far superior to quick responses!