One of the recent blog assignments given to my students was to write about where they want their level of professional communications to be in five years.
Five years can bring about a large amount of change. For me, five years ago I was smack dab in the middle of a national recession where I was managing all forms of communications for a Fortune 500 company and its subsidiaries that were experiencing record downturns, high levels of instability and corporate-wide layoffs. Internally, it was a weird arena of controlled chaos. I was dealing with the Executive Team, employees and the media on a daily basis. Everything I said and wrote in my professional dealings were crafted with specific messages and endured a rigorous approval process.
Five years ago, I didn’t know what my exact situation would be at this point in time, but I know I would have expected that my communication abilities to continue to improve. As I always did, I would adapt my writing and speaking to the environment in which I was working. Each company and organization has its own unique style and voice, and I think that being a good communicator is to understand and know that voice, and then use it to further the company’s goals.
Today, I have a lot less stress and lot more leeway in how I communicate professionally. This doesn’t mean that I have lost articulation or the ability to construct messages; it just means I do it on a less frequent (and frenzied) basis. These days, I have the luxury of two weeks between weekend classes to construct my Powerpoint presentations, organize my notes and prepare my lesson agendas. This is a far cry (and a great relief) from the 30 minutes I may have been given to craft a news release that would be distributed globally, but first had to go through five levels of approval by people who didn’t know how to craft messages. That was rarely a fun day.
I am so pleased to enjoy communications again. What continues to improve is I still enforce a high level of professionalism in both the written and oral word and continually challenge myself to build my strengths and turn any weaknesses into positives. Some things never change.