💬 Communication

Written communication

  • British English
    We use British English for all written documentation.
  • Sentence style titles
    We write titles in sentence style, means we avoid capitalisation (aka title case).

Brand name

Our brand name is «confirm IT solutions». Follow these rules to keep the appearance of our brand consistent:

Do

  • Write out always the whole brand name «confirm IT solutions»

  • The “c” is always written in lower-case, even at the beginning of a sentence

Don’t

  • Don’t abbreviate to something like confirm or confirm IT

  • Don’t write Confirm IT solution with a uppercase “c”. Never.

Tone of voice

Our “tone of voice” includes a few core elements to standardise our communication across all platforms. It is authentic, direct, cooperative, and understandable.

  • Direct
    Straight to the point. No poetry, just transparent and honest what and why we are doing it.
  • Understandable
    Clear, uncomplicated, and to the point. Focus on the statement.
  • Sovereign
    Credible and experienced, although mostly informal.

Mattermost

We’re not a big fan of emails within our company, thus we’re using Mattermost instead. It is our most important internal communication platform, and here are the reasons why we’re using it:

  • A replacement for internal emails

  • A good alternative for decentral / asynchronous communication

  • Segregation of different topics through different Mattermost channels

  • Notifications from GitLab (e.g. new issues, merge requests, deployments)

  • Notifications from other 3rd party tools (e.g. Kudos or VoIP calls)

Application tips

Stay factual and transparent
Is the core message clear? Is the reason for a statement clear? Can you prove the statement?
Choose clear words
Watch out for complicated words and jargon. Choose understandable terms and avoid long sentences and nesting. We are experts and can make difficult things look easy.
Speak only the truth
Avoid guesswork and assumptions. Make sure to back up your statements. If there are examples, all the better.
Use active instead of passive speech

In active language, the subject acts, in passive language, the action happens to the subject.

Hint

If you are not sure whether it is active or passive speech, you can add «by monkeys». If the sentence still makes sense, it is a passive sentence.

Passive: You have been logged in. … by monkeys
Active: You have logged in. … by monkeys
Swap formal words with normal ones

We are friendly people and not a cold, faceless organization. That's why we write the way we speak to people.

Hint

You can test this by reading aloud what you have written. Does that sound like something you would say?

  • assistance → help

  • set in motion → begin

  • make available → give

  • request → ask

  • use → need

Make negative statements positive

no shipping fees → free shipping.

Restrict exclamation points

Choose more words to describe emotions instead of relying on punctuation.

Check the adjectives

Are they all necessary? Would a more specific noun be a better choice?

Be precise

Use short words and sentences, avoid superfluous and irrelevant.

Use only common abbreviations and acronyms

Avoid abbreviations and acronyms to minimize misunderstandings. Otherwise, mention the abbreviation in parentheses the first time you use it such as Continuous Integration (CI). Except for abbreviations and acronyms that are generally valid and known, such as API or HTML.

Use contractions in English text

Use contractions in the English language. They're great! They give your writing an informal, friendly tone.

Use more verbs than nouns

To sound more professional, we prefer nouns over verbs in written language. When we speak, it's vice-versa and we prefer more verbs. Nouns are generally considered more stylish and professional, but they also make sentences long.

Hint

We wouldn’t speak like that. e.g.:

  • "We made the decision that" vs. "We decided"

  • "We did an analysis" vs. "We analyzed"

Structure sections with subtitles

Content is often only skimmed over. Good subtitles give an overview of the following section, and pick up the main message of it without describing all the details.

Story telling

Communicate the "why", not the "how" or "what"

When communicating the why, you automatically communicate emotions and inspire people.

Hint

Have a look at Simon Sinek’s “How great leaders inspire action” Ted talk for more informations.

Identify what you want to communicate
Stick to what you really want to communicate. Don't add extra words just to sound more intelligent.
Grab the user's attention at the start
Begin with the most relevant fact and summarise it in 25 to 30 words. Tell what is new or what we made different.
Describe cause & effects first
First describe the purpose of your idea, only then describe how it works.
Describe benefits over functions

Communicating over benefits is more emotional and people can identify themselves with it.

Hint

“Introduce faster access to portfolio” vs. “Add portfolio button to dashboard”

Discussion guidelines

Find common ground

Try to find common ground on which everyone can agree.

This will help identifying the common goal, as well as improve constructive criticism.

State your view and share relevant information

It is important that the team understands everyone's point of view and opinions, by focusing on factual information.

This will help to develop a comprehensive, common set of information.

Explain your reason and intent

Elaborate why you got to your point of view.

This will give people more context to understand your position.

Focus on solutions rather than positions

Don't argue about positions, but focus on identifying needs to solve a problem.

This increases the finding of a solution, and stops unproductive conflicts.

Be precise and care about terminology

Use the right words and agree on important terminology.

This reduces misunderstandings, since everyone uses the same words for the same meaning.

Be curious and ask genuine questions

If you're missing some information, or you don't understand something, ask questions.

This will help to improve understanding, and to uncover blind spots.

Discuss the undiscussable

Start discuss important but challenging topics which are avoided by the team.

This will ensure crucial topics won't prevent progress.

Test assumptions

Test your assumptions and inferences by using mental frameworks.

This will to make decisions based on valid information and facts.

Good headlines

Keep it short, at most 10 words or 70 characters

People have short attention spans, so less is more. Catch their attention and summarise the content without telling the whole story.

To prevent search engines from cutting them off, keep it under 70 characters. The ideal size is **between 55 and 65 characters**.

Hint

Check it with a SERP snippet generator (e.g https://app.sistrix.com/de/serp-snippet-generator)

Use keywords and interesting adjectives

Words like "fun", "effortless", "unique", "incredible", "essential", "strange", "painstaking", and "absolute" engage readers more than more mundane language

Include "you" and "your"

This makes your headline more effective since it speaks to your readers’ concerns and seems more like a real conversation.

Use numbers
  • People want to improve their efficiency, and seeing numbered lists with easy steps meets this need
  • Make sure to use digits instead of words to increase sharing - e.g. "5" instead of "five"
Avoid clickbait

We strive for clear and real information. And clickbait headlines hurt our site's SEO and brand reputation and disappoint our audience.

Brainstorm at least five headlines for any given post

Here are some sample headline exercises to help you create a title:

  • A question-based headline
  • A how-to headline
  • A short headline (~60 characters)
  • A longer headline (80 – 100 characters)
  • A headline based around a power word or phrase
Check the headline with an analyser tool

These tools can help you evaluate the headline quality.

General writing: Headline analising

Publications

We avoid publishing on a set schedule
We want want to share content that creates value and high-quality content needs time. And thus we only publish content when we know exactly what we want to say and how to say it. After ensuring it’s on point and meets our specifications.
Always proofread your work
  • Verify if the key point of the publication is clear

  • Revise the output for headlines & descriptions for search engines (SERP Snippet Generator)

  • Check if a call to action is integrated

  • Ensure that the application tips are met

  • Proofread it yourself with the help of Wordtune, Grammarly and/or Hemingway

  • Finally, let it be proofread by one of your team-mates