TOT 003: Crazy Reading Trick that will Drastically improve Reading Comprehension on Your Tech Team By a Factor of 2X

John Barker

Aug 6, 2023

Reading Comprehension Problem

No one likes meetings.

I don’t. Everyone says, “Just send it an email’.

So, you send your updates to your teams in an email.

Maybe there are changes to processes or a new request. A few days later maybe half of your team complied.

You end up forced to call a meeting.

Irritating you and the team members that did adjust.

PERSONAL NOTE: There were times I would send longer emails because the client protocols shifted that much. The email could have been the equivalent of a full typed page.

Formal Standard Operating Procedures would be updated.  The client would occasionally change processes on the fly.

The Solution

I really didn’t want to call a meeting.

The project was a 24/7 operation.

So either people not working would have to join a meeting when they were off or I would have to do multiple meetings. And the team was capable enough to follow the instructions. They didn’t need to be handheld. They just needed to take the time to read.

I would bury in the email a random spot that said, respond to this email in font color BLUE. I did not change any font colors in my original email.  Everything was still in the default black.

The game was on, and it worked.

Email compliance shot up after that. Not 100% but way better than the 40%-50% I was getting before. The team thought it was funny. At least the ones that were complying before I started trying this. The best part was no extra meetings.

Don’t Overuse This

You cannot do this for every email. It must be random, or people will just start reading for what color font or other request you put into the message.

Summary Steps

To get an increase in reading comprehension of your emails:

  1. In the bottom third of your email ask for a response in a different font color.
  2. Keep all your email text in the default black.
  3. Expect to call members of your team out for not complying with the color change.
  4. At some point soon, after the first email, repeat the exercise.
  5. Compliance should be significantly higher.
  6. Do not overuse this. Keep at no more than once a quarter.
  7. Utilizing this trick too frequently will have team members just reading for the color font for acknowledgment.

That’s all for this week.

See you next Sunday.


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John Barker

John Barker

John has over 25 years of technology experience and earned a Bachelor’s in Business Management & MBA.  He also holds CISSP and PMP certifications.