JS Tip 306: IMing (Instant Messaging)

Tips from Jefferson Smith Training and Consulting

** From the Writing Workshops: IMing. (Instant Messaging)

Jillian Bales of Wells Fargo asks, “With so much communication taking place via text—via phones, IMing, etc.—are there any guidelines on this mode of communication.

There are.

Some of these may be obvious. (If they are, we apologize.)

Five suggestions: Identify yourself. The unsigned message, “Have you received my emails?” means nothing and requires the response, “I don’t know. Who are you?” (Phone numbers aren’t readily identifiable.) Have a point. Don’t use IM for casual conversation. Use it to ask or answer questions. Keep it short. No more than three sentences. If you have a message longer than that, use email. (It’s called “instant” for a reason.) Avoid the cute abbreviations. They draw attention to themselves and slow down the reading. They require a translation step: “Humm. What does ‘2NTE’ mean? What? ‘Tonight’? Oh, wow. I didn’t know that.” Just spell it out: Tonight. Avoid humor and sarcasm. These are almost impossible to interpret without visual cues.

What are your suggestions? What’s worked for you? Or what hasn’t worked for you? Let us know. We’ll include your suggestions in next week’s tip.

Hey. We love this stuff.

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