Thursday, October 29, 2009
Today my supervisor forwarded me an email someone had sent her, with the message, "Can you reply and let them know if we can accommodate them?"
It was at the head of string of correspondence between our Corporate Parent and a nearby institution, who were collaborating on an initiative. A press conference was being held to announce some new development. A senior administrative person connected to the head of our Corporation asked - could my department parking lot accommodate the press vehicles?
To get the gist of this question, I had to scroll down through several messages. It took me a while, as there was a lot of discussion. After weeding out the information I didn't need, like how many microphones they needed at the press conference site, and the names of the VIPS, and the talking points for the conference, I discovered the name of the institution, the location of the press conference, and that the press conference was scheduled for 11:00 a.m.
I kept scrolling. There were driving directions. There was a discussion about the actual site of the conference. There was a debate over the starting time. There were discussions about name tags - whether to print them or not.
What was missing was what DATE the thing was scheduled for.
I love email as a medium of communication. When I first started working in offices where email became an important tool, I worked for a boss who was a stickler for....erm...important details. She trained us to be sure that we wrote our messages so that the recipient understood what we were talking about. She drilled it into us, in fact. We learned it was important to explain the context of our message.
Like - "On Monday, October XX, Institution Name is holding a press conference at Site Name. Will your department be able to accommodate their 4 press vehicles in your parking lot?"
See how simple and easy that is? Why can't the senior administrative assistant to the Big Guy figure that out?
Why do I have to spend 10 minutes scrolling through a string of 20 messages to decipher exactly what favor someone wants me to grace them with? And then come up blank, because no one has bothered to include the most critical detail?