Writing Post-Mortems - Deepstash

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Writing Post-Mortems

Summarizing a project’s success or failure is a great way to reflect within the group. It helps to be chronological and detailed, describing the impact, learning and conclusion.

Understand that writing always leaves room for (mis)interpretation, and make sure you are using emphatic words that convey kindness, honesty, positivity and team spirit.

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Before You Press Send

  • Proofread your message before you hit the send button. This you can read twice.
  • Spellcheck your message to comb any unintentional spelling mistakes.
  • If possible, get the document checked by someone for a second opinion or to find any blind spots
  • Try to wait a while before sending, and come back to it later, editing it if necessary.

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“Be A Strong Writer”

“Be A Strong Writer”

This is one of the first pieces of advice people give to those seeking remote work.

When you work remotely, a few misplaced words can become an occupational hazard. Every word you type (or don’t) is important in conveying your ideas and communicating effectively with your colleagues.

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Accessible Language

  • Use of caps lock, emojis, italics and tildes (~) to make your language flowery, fun and human is a great idea for remote working. You can also use memes and gif images, provided they are not offensive to anyone.
  • Robot speak is not a good way to freely collaborate with your remote peers. Use simple words, and keep it on the casual side, skipping the inaccessible and stilted language. You can also opt for contractions like writing isn’t instead of is not.

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Writing Meeting Notes

  • After the end of the video or audio call, the virtual gathering may have to be documented as minutes of the meeting (MOM) or simply the meeting notes.

  • Pre-meeting Prep: Instead of just writing the agenda, it is a good idea to write the key objectives and add context to keep people up to speed. If there are participants across time zones, make sure they would also be able to follow.

  • Lead your meeting notes with key takeaways, instead of the entire chronological script of the meeting.

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Writing Feedback

  • Feedback is something to be done carefully, and it is a good practice to show gratitude and appreciation for all the hard work done by them, highlighting their positive aspects.
  • Feedback has to be constructive, honest and actionable, and not negative or disconcerting.
  • Provide the background information and context before providing the feedback, so that the groundwork is done in the recipient’s mind. It’s a great idea to have a face-to-face conference call.
  • Do not act like a robot and provide consecutive negative and positive feedback, as it risks spinning the recipient's head. It helps to buffer the good and bad news with some fillers and provide space.

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Be Clear And Concise

  • Do not obscure your message by words that are there to decorate the sentence and make it sound wordy while camouflaging what you mean.
  • Make good use of qualifiers ("I think, In my opinion") while not coming across as a perpetually confused person. Don’t use qualifiers while making a strong point.
  • While writing documentation, it is prudent to avoid jargon and acronyms.
  • Use complete words and sentences. Shortcuts and acronyms block any actual communication, acting as roadblocks. On the same lines, avoid cliches, idioms and any idiotic sounding phrase that catches the ear well but doesn’t really do any good to anyone.
  • Remote working is often on a global scale, and certain expressions will not be understood by some participants, or worse, will be misunderstood.
  • Your words and tone should be tailored according to your audience. The words are different when you are writing to a client, and when you are in a small group chat with your peers. More people in chat also means adopting a polished, professional tone.

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Getting To The Point

While trying to convince your team, it is a good idea not to keep rambling and get to the point.

Lead with your key point, making the main point clear in the subject line or in the first sentence. Use bold fonts if required.

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Writing Specific Requests

Remote working has mainly two modes of communication, email type asynchronous communication, or an audio/video call.

  • Synchronous Communication is real-time and is best for discussing job performance, talking casually, brainstorming and to fire someone.

  • Asynchronous Communication is deferred (like email) and is best for important announcements, in-depth discussions, feedback and sharing of ideas.

One has to choose the right medium to be able to successfully request something specific. Also, find the balance of being gracious while making a specific request, yet be clear and explicit.

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Writing Internal Memos

Company-wide emails are an opportunity to use your storytelling skills and keep things interesting and engaging to the wide audience.

  • Use active voice and sentence variations and stay with the company’s wider goals/mission.
  • Make sure there are no redundant paragraphs in your memo. If a paragraph is not conveying a good idea, remove it or incorporate it somewhere else. Place your paragraphs in chronological order, keeping your story linear.
  • Make sure the ending is satisfying and the discussion does not keep going.

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Writing Company Announcements

Triple check your message while sending across the entire company, getting it reviewed by your colleagues or even different departments.

If it’s a big announcement, try to let it sit for a few days before sending.

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Using The Active Voice

This is a literary device that makes your words interesting and confident, the direct approach is great for a business setting.

Saying ‘We made a Partnership with XYZ’ is a better way to convey the deal, than ‘A partnership was made with XYZ’.

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The Positive Language

Positivity is to be used, and negative language to be avoided. One should take up the opportunity to lift others up.

Also, avoid negative assumptions with accusing sentences formations that can backfire in minutes. Better to ask neutral and positive questions, in a cheerful way rather than assuming the worst.

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Honesty and Transparency

There is increased isolation, anxiety and paranoia due to remote work, and many of the teammates can assume the worst in certain situations.

Keep your conversations transparent and honest, and keep motivating the teammates.

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