Picture yourself driving down the interstate. You’ve just stopped for fuel and refreshments and you’re back on the road to get through your last two-hour leg before reaching your destination. You’ve just hit the speed limit and turned on cruise control. You go to take a drink from your fountain soda that you just purchased and a problem arises: the soda tastes awful.
We have all been there. The carbonation is off and you are left with your taste buds sounding alarms. Now it comes down to a few questions you have to ask yourself:
- How parched am I?
- Can I make it two hours without another drink?
- Or, worst case scenario, do I grin and bear it while taking that next drink?
This soda face didn’t have to occur too many times for me to create my No. 1 rule of life. Always taste-test the fountain soda before you take off. This rule applies inside at the gas station or sitting in line at a drive-through.
The idea this rule represents can be applied to more things than just fountain sodas. I use the rule for business purposes in sending reports and emails. The rule applied generally is: double-check your work.
In a previous blog, I wrote about presentation being the key to all reporting. You must understand and consider what your audience wants and needs from your reports and emails. It is your responsibility to exceed their expectations and make your communications more efficient.
Here are a few areas to consider for improving your business efficiency and applying my No. 1 rule.
Use the print preview option. This makes the reporting and printing options easy for the end-user. It is a pet peeve of mine when I go to print the report I received and it needlessly runs to two pages. I am left flipping the page over, having to juggle between two sheets of paper or going back to adjust the settings myself and wasting more paper in order to print it again.
Make sure your column widths support the length of your numbers. Looking at financial reports expecting to see amounts makes the report rather useless when you are left looking at #####.
Emails with Attachments
There are many times when we include attachments to our emails. However, using the “Snipping Tool” (Windows: Start – All Programs –Accessories – Snipping Tool; Mac: Command – Shift – 4) allows you to snip and provide a preview of data that your email recipient truly needs without requiring them to open the attachment. They can then decide whether they need to review the attachment.
Is the most important data you want to display easy to see and find? If not, then find the best location that draws the recipient’s eye.
These are just a few areas where you can improve efficiencies, not only for yourself but also for others. And, if you remember my No. 1 rule of life on your next road trip, report or email, you won’t be left with a sour face.