Thinking about new ways to add value this year? Whether personally, professionally, or both, you may not have to look farther than your own words to make a positive impact in 2015, and it is probably much easier than shedding those extra December pounds at the gym!

Intrigued? Have you looked at your last 5 emails, text messages, facebook posts, snapchats, tweets, or post-it notes (yeah, i went there) to see how clear, concise, and effective your messages were?

We have all missed opportunities and have made mistakes when it comes to communicating, and whether you have children, pets, business partners, managers, or diverse teams that you interact with, this is more than likely a daily occurrence. Take a look at a few areas I am working on in 2015:

  1. Who is your audience? Could a phone call get the intended results, or is this a group communique and needs to be delivered to many? Sometimes a quick call can be more effective or taking time to carefully construct your thoughts and writing them down makes the most sense. Are you a habitual “reply to sender,” only or do you “reply to all” when it is warranted? Ensuring my messages get to the intended audience the first time, and without others needing to forward or relay the message is my goal in 2015. Oh, and I could write a book on when to reply to all, and why some people choose not to click that button. For another time…
  2. Why do you need to communicate? – Is emotion or fact driving your message? Outline your frame of reference or reason for your message and don’t overburden it with unnecessary color. Love letters or letters to the editor can both benefit from this! In 2015 I am working on stating my intentions for communicating more specifically, and more succinctly, right up front.
  3. Make it clear –  Regardless of #2 above, getting to the point quickly and concisely will give your message a fighting chance before it’s inevitable journey to the trash. In this age of instant messaging and multitasking, keep your topics to a minimum and less than 150-200 words, when possible. If you need something, ask clearly.
  4. Punctuation and grammar matters – Business or personal. Taking a minute to spell check and to validate proper grammar is a winning combination.  We all make mistakes. It happens, although no one generally comments on proper language, they may think differently about anything less if you are sloppy about it.
  5. Follow up – Do you send out messages and then let them live in limbo if no one responds? If you initiated the communication or if you are just replying to another, then make sure you are getting something out of the time you took to author or respond. I started a personal reminder system this year to limit “communication purgatory.” I am not a big list maker, but if you are, this one is going to be easy for you.

Like I said. It doesn’t have to take a big change to have a major impact and to add value in 2015, personally and professionally. If you take a minute to act on a few of these reminders, you may show value, daily, in a much more effective way.