Better Business Writing? Elementary, Watson

How often do you find yourself eager to tackle all of the communications you just received? Now think about your reader who likewise is being inundated with letters and emails, meetings and phone calls. Expecting that reader to jump up and down with the excitement of reading about your product, your company or your service is delusional.

To increase interest in reading your messages, follow the ABCs. Make your writing:

A – Audience driven.  Get over yourself. The reader isn’t hankering to read what you have to say. He is tolerating still another communications. Think about what the reader wants to know and write to his needs.

B – Bottom line.  USA Today. Executive summaries. Bullets. Why are they popular? Because these communication approaches give the reader the basics, just what he needs to make a decision. The extra details, the caveats, the credits to all the players – none of these matter to the reader. In fact, they deter the reader from finishing your correspondence. Go for the bottom line – why does this matter to the reader and what does he need to do?

C – Concise.  Face it. We overwrite. We pepper our words with modifiers and adjectives, repeat ourselves, use clichés, and drone on and on. Break the pattern. After you’ve completed your first draft, declutter. Start by cutting out 30% of the words. Next, reduce lists to bullet points. Now, let your copy get cold before rereading. During your second edit, delete what is not necessary to “sell your message.” Being concise keeps your reader’s attention longer.

Rudimentary? Yes. But this is the meat and potatoes of writing.   Gone are the days when we had the leisure to sit and read a letter, to linger over a word or digest a description. No longer do you see the executive jumping over to the next page of an article in the Wall Street Journal, impatient to read a continuation.

Why, we don’t even scroll down past the first page in an email or electronic document. One expert found “multi-page articles see a drop off of around 50% for every page after the first one. In other words, if 100 people hit the first page, 50 make it to the second page . . . something like 85% of the original readers never make it to the third page.”

Simplify your words, your writing and your presentation – and watch your readership and response rate improve.

From Claudia Coplon Clements who will continue to train professionals in better communications until I am blue in the face so you will to write and speak more effectively.  For more clues on improving your communications skills, click here to purchase a copy of Better Business Writing.