October 2001
Issue 10
Volume 6
 
 
 

In This Issue
E-Mail Attachments: Make Sure They're Worth It
With Technology, Always Have a Back-Up Plan
Grammar Trap: Purposely vs. Purposefully


Mail Attachments: Make Sure They're Worth It

Attachments or enclosures or whatever your e-mail system calls them are a wonderful way to send lengthy and/or elaborately formatted documents. They can save time because these "richer" documents reach their recipients virtually immediately.

But lately people seem to be forgetting that they cost time, too. Each recipient has to take the time to download and open the attachment, read it, and either save the file or delete it. That's a lot more steps than simply reading an e-mail message.

It's a big drag to have to decide to go through the downloading and reading routine "on spec," and it's really annoying when you discover it was a waste of time. So take a little of your time when writing the e-mail message that conveys the attachment to let your recipients know what they will be getting and whether or not it will be worth it to them.

If you're sending an announcement of a retirement party, for example, let people know who, what, where, and when in the body of the e-mail message, and tell them they will find more information or a formatted version in the attachment.

If you're sending information on an upcoming workshop, describe the training briefly and give the dates so recipients can put the workshop in their calendars if they're interested and then read the attached material when it's more convenient.

It's a matter of courtesy. It's inconsiderate to waste people's time. It's a matter of strategy, too. Time is at a premium these days. I know that I, for one, am choosing to ignore more and more of these "speculative attachments" unless they deal with something I'm expecting or am really interested in. I suspect I'm not alone.

Laura Hoelscher


With Technology, Always Have a Back-Up Plan

One of my favorite phrases is: "Technology can and will fail you." That's why, when you have a program that involves technology, you should always have a back-up plan. For instance, make sure your overhead projector has an extra bulb. If your Internet access fails before your live presentation, employ software to capture the Web pages you want to show, and save them to your computer's hard drive. Or you could have handouts for your audience.

But what can you do about something with the gravity of a live videoconference being broadcast statewide or even nationwide?

For one thing, don't throw in the towel too soon. Determine if the problem with your video connection is fatal or intermittent. Maybe just waiting for the problem to pass or get resolved is a possible strategy. For instance, with the IHETS satellite network, heavy rains can interrupt the video signal. If you wait for the storm to pass, you may be able to consolidate your material toaccount for the lost time and then proceed.

But what do you do if the show goes totally down the drain?

If the program is particularly important, you may want to pre-tape all or most of it and distribute tapes prior to the event. If your program is using on-site facilitators, you may want to have a training program prior to your live event and provide them with materials that make them familiar enough with the flow of your program that they can be your fill-ins.

If the above isn't feasible, here are some simple measures.

  • Send your printed and visual materials out ahead of time.
  • If you have a PowerPoint Presentation, send out the electronic file orprintouts ahead of time, and then use a speaker phone and phone bridge to deliver your presentation via audio to the remote sites.
  • Consider sending your program out via the Internet. With some of the streaming technologies, you can get an acceptable quality image to transmit programs with limited visual details. Just make sure your sites have a computer and data projector ready.
  • If all else fails, tape the program, and distribute it in the most expeditious way you can.

Above all, keep your head and your sense of humor. Almost everyone has been in your position at one time or another, and they'll understand.

Randy Spears

Grammar Trap: Purposely vs. Purposefully

Recently, the author of a manuscript I was editing used the word "purposefully." I suspected that wasn't what he wanted, but I looked up both words to be sure. I found that the difference between these two adverbs is subtle, but it's there.

"Purposely" means to do something deliberately, to do it on purpose.

Example: I purposely didn't let my department head know what I was planning.

"Purposefully" means something similar, only more so. It means to be full of determination or purpose in what you do.

Example: I purposefully fought my way to the front of the line.

Tip: When you're trying to choose between "purposely" and "purposefully," remember "full."

Do you have a grammar (or usage) trap you'd like to see discussed? Do you have a tip that will help the rest of us avoid one? If so, please let me know.

Visit <http://www.agriculture.purdue.edu/agcomm/ontarget/grammartrap/> for past "Grammar Traps."


Laura Hoelscher

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