Discussion lists allow us to connect with one another and react to the content being posted. While the announcement is nice for one-way communication, the features that go along with the Discussion List, such as the ability to connect them to, and post directly from Outlook, make this a standout in terms of collaboration and communication. The list is designed to post news and other bits of information to share with your colleagues. I don’t know about you though but sometimes reading through an announcement or discussion list is like trying to solve anagrams or crossword puzzles, and I thought it might be helpful to write up a couple of tips to help make our collaboration even better.
Here are some tips on making sure that your posts get read:
- Create a great descriptive title. “Idea” is not a good title. “Help” is not a good title. The title of the post shows up in nice, large letters, so use them to your advantage. You have 75 characters to get our attention. Use them well!
- Forget the salutation. The first 75 characters of your post appear in the preview, so make them count! Between 75 characters in the title and 75 characters in the preview, you have 150 characters to get us to click on your discussion item. I know that we’ve trained ourselves that we need to open emails and letters with Dear Team, but in a discussion list it’s somewhat redundant as only our colleagues are reading it. You don’t start ever web page with “Dear Reader” so no need to do it here either.
- Use separate discussion items to split your content. While we would love to read your prose, let’s be honest: we’re all very busy. Please help us by keeping discussion items short and to the point. If you have a lot to tell us, either break up the content with very easy to see headers, or you might be able to split your content into multiple discussion items so we can pick and choose which is most relevant. I fall into this trap all the time. I can get long winded trying to provide some context behind what we’re doing. In the end though, sorry to say, the longer the post, the less likely it gets read.
- Keep your message short by using links to expanded content. This may be redundant, but it’s a slight twist on the above note. If your content needs to be long, such as when you need to provide instructions or describe a detailed process, consider creating a web page or word document with all the details and linking to that source, so that we can get to the message quickly, and then if we need more information, we can go to the link.
- Create meaningful hyperlinks. SharePoint has the ability to insert hyperlinks through the INSERT tab. You can add meaningful text that’s linked to additional content. Type your meaningful text first, and then highlight your sentence and use the INSERT Link feature to hyperlink it to your content. Because links are not too easy to see on SharePoint, feel free to highlight and link the entire sentence. You also don’t necessarily need to use the words “click here” or “visit this site” to show people you’ve linked something. Just linking the sentence gets the point across that there’s something more to click on.
I hope these five tips will get you started with writing compelling content for your discussion lists and will make your collaboration more meaningful.