Mail lists, tips for Digital Communication in 2.009
By Justin Lai '07 and Geoff Tsai '09, 2.009 alum and former team mentors
You will be communicating over email, Slack, and digital documents in 2.009. Your inbox and notifications will be an order of magnitude messier this term. So, take the time to find what works best for you to make the information more manageable. Although we offer these as tips, it’s always important to communicate about team communication — observe and discuss what is and isn’t working.
These tips were written originally for email only, but most of them are relevant to the team’s use of Slack. There are mail lists setup for your sections, teams, and course staff, as well as a Slack team with channels for your sections.
- Is it better to pick up the phone and call?
- Consider writing a draft of your email some time before you have to send it out. Quickly jotting down your thoughts can help you organize and refine your writing to make your email more clear, saving everyone on the team time in understanding it.
- Have boilerplate (text describing your project) for communicating with clients, customers, users, etc.
- Have a summary at the beginning if the email is lengthy. Have conclusions and deliverables at the end.
- Be explicit about day, date, time, and location. For instance, if you write an email at night, put the day you refer to in talking about “tomorrow.”
- Make the “Subject” field informative.
- Check whether your email is clear and concise before you send it.
- Instead of attaching large files, link to them using the team Dropbox or Google Drive. Although the storage quota for email is ever increasing, this is a way to be considerate of others who may be short on available space.
Responding to email
- Is it more appropriate to “reply all” or reply only to the sender?
- If the conversation is going in a new direction, break the thread by entering a new, informative subject.
- If you know someone is expecting a response from you, but you can’t respond immediately, send them a quick reply to let them know you’ve received it.
- If someone asks for help and you can’t, it’s better to say I can’t than not to reply at all.
- Use your team’s project management tools. Ask the TAs or course instructor for help. The team Slack can serve as an archive of how your project has developed over the term, a place to document design thinking, manage tasks and milestones, and a forum where comments on ideas can be made asynchronously. Slack can also be used in conjunction with your team’s dropbox.
- Dropbox is a quick way to share files and every team has its own dropbox with unlimited storage.
- Doodle helps you schedule meetings and make decisions. Make sure the instructions you write for the Doodle are clear.