The Future Church - A Church Communications Podcast
Church Media + Communications

E103 - Importance Of Writing Things Down

 Joanna: As we get more professional as communicators and media people it's great to write things down when we're working on a team. So everybody has agreed expectations. We're gonna talk about that and James and I have some examples of that today.

James: So when you say write things down. Joanna what I hear is get something in contract form and I mean sometimes getting really legal with it kind of gets people scared a little bit but especially as a contractor it's it's often just a way to 1: protect yourself but then also let the client know or the person you're working for in this case the church you're working for that you're also doing things in a very professional manner as well as you're giving them the ability to call you out on something if you're not going to live up to what you promised. And as a contract yours you need to be aware that like I've also heard a million stories of people having just nightmare scenarios with contractors who promise a whole bunch take the cheque and then are never heard from again or deliver mediocre work or bad work so it is both sides of the conversation are probably a little nervous. And I think it's it's good to write it down because it keeps you in check and it keeps the person you're working with in check. And I mean I've never had a project go really bad, that's actually not true. I've had one project and I've mentioned it before when I was in college I did a website for someone who was like it was my wedding planner Website. It went really bad. And what at the end of months and months of back and forth back and forth I end up just having to give the five hundred dollars back and I just wasted a bunch of time. But I also gained I learned a really important lesson which is there should have been a contractor. And from that point onward whenever I did contract work there was a contract involved in it can sometimes be just a few lines on a piece of paper you don't need to have a lawyer draft up something long but it just it mentions the important things to have are some key expectations some key dates and the deliverables and then you know the money involved with it is also important to put in there. But from your standpoint maybe you're talking about like just co-workers working within the same office structure.

Joanna: Things as simple as you know when when someone needs something from communications asking them to fill out a form. That's not just to slow them down it's actually so that everybody on all sides has a record of it. So we've we've done it with Google Forms which is free you can fill it out but there's other companies that build communication request forms. I think you could just use Google Forms it's free. But the idea of having an agreed upon documented expectation on both sides that includes things like we talked about yesterday about the stakeholders versus decision makers you can write their names there who are the stakeholders who's the decision makers what's the due date. And then even then when criticism and feedback comes as it's been a bit of a theme this week on our episodes it's this idea of looking back and saying ha I see I didn't meet expectations on A and B but what they're saying about C actually we did do that. So if they're asking for it to be added like I see it here or there asking for it to be removed. The reason it was there in the first place is because they asked for it and now they're changing their mind which it can happen that people change their mind. But if we don't have anything recorded written down in some documented way and documentation can even be just emails it doesn't have to be super fancy it just you know if you're flying pretty quickly between people on something just so that everybody's clear upfront. The more you write down the less there can be space for confusion or disagreement later and certainly if you're in an environment where you're trying to build trust writing things down makes you look more professional and less scattered. So it can only help.

James: And it gets more and more valuable the bigger and bigger the teams that you're involved with are right? the more it's like the telephone game right the more there are people the more chances there are for confusion and errors to happen as far as expectations or even just times and dates and things like that. So absolutely it's really important and I mean I do that even now just with other stuff that we do here it's always getting a clear answer. I ask a question and I have this with contractors I work with "Hey I like approval for this". They're waiting for a clear like yes that is ok for me before they do anything and that's just so that's in writing. So a month down the line if I've forgotten that I approve that they say well like you wrote back saying it's OK.

Joanna: And that's the classic "As per my previous emails" as in "look I already told you this!"

James: there's a lot of times where we just it's easy sometimes to be like "I'll do that for next week" and you just go and do it and there's just a lot of chances for problems to arise from that kind of operating.

Joanna: Write stuff down. It protects you it helps others. Everyone's on the same page quicker. It's more professional. Try it.