Communication! Now with 50% fewer fingers

rough draft
rough draft
Rough draft.

I had shoulder surgery last week. My left arm is in a sling and I am limited to using only my right hand. Before the surgery, I knew I would be using a sling for four weeks.

As the CEO of a website consulting agency, I’m typing on my computer all the time. I thought, “It will be no big deal. I will be 50% slower at typing on my computer.”

Big discovery: typing with 50% fewer fingers is not 50% slower. It’s 90% slower.

I’ve had to brush up on my communication coping skills. For example, take this blog post you’re reading.

Obviously, I’m still writing it this week. The beginning of this process is not all that different from my usual routine. I write the first draft of this article on a yellow legal pad.

I type the second draft for a couple rounds of editing.

You’re reading the final published version which required more computer keyboarding. Writing this article is one of the harder things I do each week.

It’s been even harder one-handed.

Then my daughter and agency colleague, Rachel, introduced me to the dictation feature on my Mac.

Rachel told me she uses this feature when she “doesn’t feel like typing.”
When Rachel says things like that, my respect for her increases by a factor of ten.

That’s Rachel: Working smarter. Not harder.

Here I am trying to do things myself when I can just get the computer to do things for me.

Here’s how the dictation looks before editing:

You can find the dictation feature under the Apple menu. Rachel told me she uses this feature when she quote doesn’t feel like typing.”

Almost perfect.

With the dictation tool, communication is now only about 50% slower.

I think and stare at the computer screen. Since the dictation tool picks up every single word I say, I have to think more before I speak.

I get one sentence… 30 seconds later… the second sentence… and so on.
My emails are now more to the point and stilted.

I’ve considered adding the following note to my email signature: “I wrote this email via voice-to-text dictation. I’m not mad at you.”

My struggle with the keyboard has me looking for communication alternatives. Despite my sling, I need to communicate frequently and effectively.

My favorite alternative to typed email is instant video. I use Loom.
When my clients get a personalized loom video message from me, they think it’s cool that I made a video just for them. The truth is, making a Loom video is easier than writing an email.

Here’s an example of Loom video:

It’s not just easier, it’s better.

Have you ever tried to do business with one of those people who only communicate in person or by text? Their voice mailbox is full. Email goes unanswered.

They seem really busy but they still struggle with being profitable. They keep missing the point because it came by email.

If you are one of these people, I need to tell you something.

I see you trying to run your business by text. ICYDK… your hair is on fire.

Even so, if you’re my client, I need to be able to communicate with you. I text lots of Loom videos and voice memos.

Client with hair on fire, I have learned not to leave you voicemails or send you emails about anything important.

Beaker struggles with communication.

The informal rule around my office is don’t send long emails.

I used to send carefully crafted emails with bullet points and multiple edited screenshots as attachments. I just wanted the recipient to understand.

Experience has taught me that these emails don’t get read. They overwhelm the recipient.
Instead, I

  • send multiple short emails with specific subject lines
  • Send a Loom video
  • Pick up the phone and call

If having a record of a phone conversation is important, then I email a bullet point summary immediately after the call.

This is all you’re getting from me this week! I’m off to the recliner to watch another Rom-Com.

Leave me a comment (or get well wishes) below. 

Welcome to WebDev Success. I’m Emily Journey and this podcast is where I take a hard look at the challenges facing the website development industry. Learn how to attract loyal customers, how to raise your prices with confidence, and take steps to craft the work life you’ve always wanted. Subscribe, listen in and develop brilliantly.

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  • Hi Emily,
    This was great! Thanks. Helpful tips on SHORT emails with specific subject lines, and no voicemails or emails about anything important. I don’t know if I will do LOOM but it’s nice to be introduced to it. Also I am dictating the sentence I am writing right now. And you can see that it is working. This is great! Goodbye for now!

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Web developer working at table

Hi, I’m Emily Journey. I founded and lead a website consulting agency with six coworkers. This blog is where I write about the things I’ve learned at my real job.
I respond to your comments at the bottom of my posts. Subscribe to get my weekly email.