✍ Friday is your timeline

It’s Monday, and you’ve picked something to work on: we’re finally going to get that new policy launched internally. We just need to write up the post and get it out to the team. It’ll be done and live by tomorrow. Maybe Wednesday at the latest.

Hold on; we missed a scenario. Alex can help fix that. Got five Alex?

Great chat! That really helped, and thanks for pointing out those other stakeholders we missed. We’ll check in with them quickly.

It’s Friday morning. They’ve found a gap. It’s annoying, but it’s good that we found it, and we can fix it quickly this morning.

Hey folks! I think we’re ready to go, yeah? We really need to get this out this week!

It’s now 2pm Friday.

Stop. Don’t publish.


Work can be like a gas: it expands to fill the container. The easiest scheduling container is a working week: it starts fresh on a Monday with a new burst of optimism, then everyone’s mutual optimism collides into a ball of messy work, and finally culminates with everybody wanting to feel successful before closing off for the week. It’s nice to tick off the ‘simple’ things you set out to achieve at the start of the week, especially if they evolved into something not-so-simple.

There are very few things that make sense to publish after noon on a Friday.

Your end-of-week rush collides with everyone else’s. When most people are also in output/closing mode, it’s hard to effectively inject new input.

Your comms won’t be perfectly contained or reaction-less. Hopefully they’ll be quite the opposite! People will have questions or feedback. They’ll have scenarios you didn’t contemplate. All of these are ok, if you’re able to respond effectively. You could leave the responses until Monday, but that’s a bit of a dump-and-run that pays for your good-feels (yay, we published!) with other peoples’ unnecessary stress or anxiety over a weekend (but how does this affect me?).


Work on your timeline, but publish to your audience’s timeline. Friday was your timeline; it’s probably not theirs.

Publish when your audience will be most receptive to new input. In a corporate environment, that’s typically earlier in the week, not later.

Think of a post/publish/send button more like a ‘Start Conversation’ button. Press it when you’ve actually got a chance of sticking around and engaging.

Finish your week comfortable that you’ve already got the first set of steps sorted for Monday: all you have to do is hit publish. That’s like two wins for the price of one: finishing the week with everything done and sorted, and starting Monday straight out of the gates.

✍ As you may know…

Announcements to a company, team, or project rarely occur in complete isolation, and thus typically include multiple references to prior context.

Examples:

  • “As you may know, embracing diversity is one of our company’s core beliefs.”
  • “You will recall that Alex wrote last month about the enterprise planning process.”
  • “As you know, we do this through the Figwizzlygig process.”

I frequently see such context surrounded in the filler phrase of “As you may know”, usually from a desire to avoid repetition of information that the audience already knows, but then introducing that information anyway.

I always advocate for dropping those filler words. Here’s why:

“As you may know, embracing diversity is one of our company’s core beliefs.”

💡 “Embracing diversity is one of our company’s core beliefs.”

If it’s a core belief, take the opportunity to state it. It’s worth saying again whether the audience knows it or not.

“You will recall that Alex wrote last month about the enterprise planning process.”

If I do recall, the phrase is redundant: it becomes more of a trigger to tune out, as the author has just confirmed that the following information is redundant.

If I don’t recall, then we’re jumped straight to implied fault: my memory isn’t good enough, or I wasn’t looking in the right place. There are many other plausible scenarios, which aren’t the reader’s fault; to start, they might be new to the group/project/company and never been in the audience for the previous communication. Whatever the case, avoid the unnecessary implied accusation.

💡 “Last month, Alex wrote about the enterprise planning process.”

Changing to a straight-up statement links the context to the prior communication, without any of that other baggage.

💡 “Last month, Alex wrote about the enterprise planning process.”

Better yet, link to that prior communication. Tools like Yammer, Teams, and Slack all provide the ability to link to a previous thread. This gives the reader a one-click jump back to that important context. Whether they’re new to the audience, or just want to brush up on history, the reader can continue to hop back from one communication to the next. They’ll be able to read the communication, and the resulting replies/reactions.

If you’re stuck referencing back to an email, attach it. For the recipients who never previously received it, the attachment removes the hurdle of needing to ask for that content, leaving them better informed, and you needing to write less duplicated follow-ups. For the recipients who want to go back and re-read the context themselves, it’s now one click away, instead of a search-mission through their inbox. Making the context proactively available helps underline the importance of it, and better respects the readers’ time, especially in aggregate across a large group. You likely already have the original email open yourself, as part of checking that your reference makes sense.

“As you know, we do this through the Figwizzlygig process.”

This is another opportunity to lead the reader towards success and test the availability of information in the process.

Where a process or tool is important to an organisation, it should be well documented, and readily discoverable. Intranet > search > first result > #winning. For many organisations, this is a struggle between the content existing in the first place, it being published somewhere linkable, and then the search/discovery process being up to scratch. Whilst these can add up to seem insurmountable, announcements are a great time to chip away at them: the content you’re talking about is likely the most important to have available.

First up, is the Figwizzlygig process well-defined and documented? When somebody asks to know more, is there something ready to share? If you’re expecting other people to know the content, you should be confident in this. Now’s a great time to check.

Does that content live somewhere accessible to the audience, with a URL? Nobody wants to be trying to get something done but be left second-guessing whether the PDF they were once sent is the latest version. Now’s a great time to check.

💡 “We do this through the Figwizzlygig process.”

If you can find the link, include it.

If you struggle, then you’ve identified a gap.

“As you may know, as you may know, as you may know”

When so many announcements start with context in this format, it also just gets down right repetitive. Take a look at some recent announcements you’ve received or written, and consider how much opening impact was wasted on the phrase “As you may know”.

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