A friend of mine got an email from Talentedly, a company that “informs, educates and inspires people at work by combining technology and experts to create products that are affordable, accessible and make work feel amazing.” When you describe yourself that way, your communications had better be simple and clear. Theirs wasn’t.
Some people start with strikes against them. For example:
- If you’re a consultant, people expect you to be selling, so they’re on guard.
- If you’re a workplace “coach,” they’ll presume you’re a bullshitter.
- If you say you are a “communications expert” (as I do, for example), people look askance at all your communications.
Talentedly faces all of those challenges. Emails that launch into a headwind like this need to be pointed, different, clear, and obviously bullshit-free, because the slightest hint of jargon or consultant-speak will turn people off.
Talentedly’s email sets off alarm bells
Here’s the email that Talentedly sent to my friend. My comments are below in italics.
Subject: How can you unleash the power of cross-generational communication at work?
Umm, by talking to people older or younger than you? I must not be in the target market, because I don’t seem to have problems talking to Millennials or Generation X-ers. I respect their talents, and they respect mine . . . isn’t that how you’re supposed to do it?
Everywhere I turn, I hear the same refrain, “I don’t understand Millennials.” My response is, and remains, “Then you haven’t tried hard enough.”
Try harder. Ah. Now I see the secret. I wasn’t trying hard enough!
At no other time have we seen four generations, actively, in the workplace. And the confusion and frustration in high.
OK, this is bullshit. Generational boundaries are arbitrary. People age 21 to 70 are working together now, just as they always have. Older workers have always said that they don’t understand younger workers, and vice versa.
This week, I’m inviting you to watch, listen and read for yourself by joining our learnference (I hate the word webinar) “Unleashing the Power of Cross-Generational Communication” on Thursday, November 10th at 11 a.m. Eastern.
What’s wrong with “webinar”? Making up new nonsense words to replace the jargon the rest of us have internalized is not the way to prove you’ve got useful content to share.
What you’ll learn:
- A new definition of leadership through the lens of cross-generational communication
- How to modulate critical feedback, drive engagement, and productivity across all workplace generations
- How to develop trusted relationships with your team, peers and management using the F.A.C.T. communication framework
- Create a personalized F.A.C.T. Communication Plan
What is “modulating feedback?” What is “driving engagement?” They’re proof that you’re HR-buzzword compliant. And my enthusiasm for the “F.A.C.T. communication framework” is limited by the fact that at this point in the email, I don’t have any idea what it is.
Simply text CROSS-GEN to nnnnn and you’ll be automatically registered. It’s that easy.
I also invite you to email me directly with your questions so that I can make sure that we address them during our time together.
I’m looking forward to sharing this with you.
What’s wrong with this approach
The good news is that this email is only 184 words long. But it reinforces every stereotype about consultants and coaches with unexplained acronyms, new-age babble, and magical promises. Perhaps I’m off here. Perhaps the target market is old people who are insecure around young people, don’t mind being insulted, and like undefined buzzwords. Do people like that sign up for “learnferences” and coaching?
I spoke with the author of this email, Talentedly’s founder Lydia Loizides, to get some insights into why she takes this approach. She clarified a few things:
You could have an organization with four generations: The Y’s, X’s, Boomers, and Millennials. We’re different in how we use tech, how we talk to each other, the speed at which we engage, our levels of comfort with information sharing and transparency.
The word “webinar” dates a specific working generation. “Learnference” is a way to step aside and say “this isn’t a sales pitch.”
F.A.C.T. is “frequency, authenticity, clarity, transparency.” It’s about how you are presenting things in a way that is palatable and makes an impact.
From that conversation, I learned some things that made this a little more interesting — specifically, why Talentedly thinks that workplace communication between generations is a problem, and how their framework is supposed to solve the problem. That’s missing from the email.
Let’s reboot this thing
Let’s assume that there’s something worth selling here. How could Lydia sell it better? Here’s a possible rewrite.
Subject: Communication across generations is hobbling your workplace
The generation you’re in determines how you communicate. That’s why Boomers, Generation X, Generation Y, and especially Millennials have so much conflict at work.
They’re using completely different technology tools, with different philosophies and motivations. Is it any wonder they can’t talk to each other?
I’ve studied this. I’ve built a communication framework called F.A.C.T. — frequency, authenticity, clarity, transparency. It works. And if you implement it at your workplace, you’ll have fewer misunderstandings, more teamwork, and better leadership.
I know you’re skeptical. But it only takes 45-minutes to get an idea of why this framework matters. Join me Thursday, November 10th at 11 a.m. Eastern. To sign up, text CROSS-GEN to nnnnn.
And learn to talk to each other in ways that make a difference.
This would be better with a few statistics, which perhaps Lydia could supply. But it sidesteps the consultant-speak trap with clear language. We’d all be better off if people communicated like this . . . whatever generation they come from.
An odd coincidence
At the start of this century, Lydia and I had an odd thing in common: we were both analyzing the television industry, working for competing research companies.
Now we’re both trying to improve how people communicate.
How’d that happen?
6 responses to “Talentedly email: communications experts have a burden to be clear”
Love the re-write! Also, I love your posts where you share re-writes. Thanks for a blog that delights the writer within me.
And that’s why I follow you and read your posts more than any other I have signed up for.
I love your rewrite and agree with everything you point out here. However, the copyeditor in me is annoyed that you used a hyphen in “45-minutes” here. No hyphen is needed. If the phrase were “a 45-minute webinar” then you hyphenate to show that 45 and minutes work as one thing to modify webinar. Hyphen use often depends on grammatical context. No big deal, but then as you say, because you claim to be a communications expert, you can expect to have your writing scrutinized, even to the level of copyediting. Other than that–keep them coming. I forward your email to colleagues occasionally, or share the link on facebook.
Yup, that’s a mistake. Thanks for noticing.
Also: I realize this may be off-topic, but I really dislike the business name of “Talentedly.” It is perfectly fine as a word (a grammatical adverb created by adding -ly to the adjective talented), and perhaps has the value of being surprising because it’s unusual. But it’s also just not very mellifluous or easy to say. It’s probably the D+L that makes it awkward to say. And I don’t see the value in giving a business an adverb for a name. It has probably been done (with more melodious adverbs), but it bugs me from the point of view of logic. It wouldn’t be wrong, but it would sound like it’s trying too hard, and is just a mouthful. (I’m not knocking the business itself at all–I have no knowledge of it.)
Like your rewrite. Would love to know if she would test your copy vs. the original and see what pulled better…