Created date
Sep 18, 2023 02:38 AM
Communication skills
To communicate effectively at work, frame conversations with leaders clearly, be succinct but informative, write to clarify your thoughts, structure meetings around a purpose, agenda, and results, and employ a "sandwich method" for tracking action items.
Vicky Zhao
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1. Purpose of communication (Emmett Shear, former CEO of Twitch):

  • Let you know what is happening (An FYI).
  • Here's what I'm doing (Approval or Decision that manager needs to make).
  • Here's what I'm thinking (Asking for input).
  • Here's what we previously agreed upon (This is what happened and what we've learned).

2. Depth of Description:

  • Use the 'What, Why, and So What' framework for detailing your communication.
  • Explain what is going on, why it's happening, why it matters and what the next steps or asks are.

3. “Writing First” method (Paul Graham):

  • Writing helps not only to communicate ideas but also to generate them.
  • Expect that 80% of your ideas will come after you start writing and that 50% could be wrong initially.

4. Productive Meeting Framework (Google's PAR):

  • P: Purpose of the meeting.
  • A: Agenda shared in advance.
  • R: Results to be achieved in the meeting time frame.

5. The Sandwich Method for Meetings:

  • Begin with action items from the previous meeting for accountability.
  • End with a summary of decisions made and action items for the next meeting.

To communication better, I prepare a checklist:

Pre-Meeting Checklist

  1. Define Purpose(Rule 4: PAR - Purpose)
    1. Identify the objective or reason for the meeting. Is it for an FYI, approval or decision, ask for input, or sharing?
  1. Identify Participants (Rule 5: Sandwich Method)
    1. List all the people who need to attend to achieve the meeting's purpose.
  1. Choose Date, Time, and Location
    1. Select a suitable date, time, and platform or location for the meeting.
  1. Draft Agenda (Rule 4: PAR - Agenda)
    1. List the topics to be covered, the responsible parties, and time allocated for each.
  1. Create Pre-Work or Pre-Reading Materials (Rule 3: Writing as a Thinking Tool)
    1. Compile any information or tasks that attendees should complete before the meeting.
  1. Send Invitations (Rule 1: Frame Conversations)
    1. Distribute calendar invites with the date, time, location, agenda, and pre-work attached.
  1. Reminder for Previous Action Items (Rule 5: Sandwich Method)
    1. Gather updates on action items from the previous meeting, if applicable.

During the Meeting

  1. Open with Previous Action Items (Rule 5: Sandwich Method)
    1. Start by reviewing action items from the last meeting for accountability.
  1. Stick to the Agenda (Rule 4: PAR - Agenda)s
    1. Ensure the discussion stays focused and adheres to the planned topics and timeline.
  1. Monitor Time (Rule 4: PAR - Results)
    1. Keep an eye on the clock to ensure each agenda point is given its allotted time.
  1. Encourage Participation and Input (Rule 1: Frame Conversations)
    1. Ask for input or advice, offering different options and framing the conversation as per Rule 1.
  1. Capture Key Points and Decisions
    1. Take notes on important insights, decisions, and future action items.


  1. Summarize and Close (Rule 5: Sandwich Method)
    1. End the meeting with a summary of decisions made and action items for the next meeting.
  1. Send Meeting Minutes (Rule 3: Writing as a Thinking Tool)
    1. Distribute a summary of the meeting, including action items, to all participants.
  1. Schedule Next Meeting
    1. If needed, schedule the next meeting and send out calendar invites.
  1. Follow Up (Rule 5: Sandwich Method)
    1. Send reminders or updates on action items before the next meeting.
Why do I write blogs? How to articulate your thoughts effectively (like Steve Jobs)