Short, concise writing is the best attention getter in today’s information-laden business world. So resolve to break some of your word-heavy habits in 2021 and get your writing in shape.
Just picture your old routine. You have an important letter or email to prepare. A fresh cup of coffee, a few sighs, a quick check of your stocks and, fingers on keyboard, you are off and writing. A few false starts, some stream of consciousness, and it looks long enough. Your first draft is done. Of course, this deluge of sentences then requires editing, followed by more editing and, wait for it, re-editing. That valuable time you could have spent completing other tasks is gone.
Reduce your wording and editing fat by exercising your thoughts up front.
- Get oriented. Take out any reference material you have set aside (correspondence, research about the company/reader, details you want to include, etc.) that help pull your thoughts together. Circle the appropriate points. This makes sure you hit all your marks.
- Set your goal. Write down what you want the communications to accomplish. Really. Write it down on a sheet of paper. Don’t worry about whole sentences. Just focus on key word phrases. This keeps you on track.
- Get directed. Make a notation as to who your reader is and why this information will matter to him. Remember, you are writing to meet his needs, not yours.
- Start toning. Jot down all your purposes for writing, e.g., to schedule a meeting, sell an idea, get feedback, introduce yourself, offer an invite – all the key points you are trying to convey. Now go back and number those purposes in the order they should appear. Oh, and delete the items that are not really of interest to the reader.
For example, say I am writing to promote my communications skills improvement courses. My homework on the company indicates management is rolling out a marketing initiative to increase the amount of interaction internal staff have with clients.
My ultimate goal is to getmy name in front of the person who will be collecting resources for training the staff. My reader is the person who is in charge of the rollout. My purposes are to:
1. Introduce my ability to provide interactive, effective one-on-one and group training programs.
2. Identify the right person to contact about training.
3. Share the history of my organization.
4. Emphasize that good communications skills can make or break the reader’s initiative.
5. Talk about how often I have heard the company’s name.
When I review my purposes, delete the information of no importance to the reader, and reorder, my word-lite list of purposes is:
1. Emphasize that good communications skills can make or break the reader’s initiative.
2. Introduce my ability to provide interactive, effective one-on-one and group training programs.
3. Identify the right person to contact about training.
Now I can begin writing, knowing I have streamlined the amount of time I am going to spend getting my words on paper.
I have also dramatically reduced the amount of time I will spend editing. In reality, spending about 30 percent of the writing cycle on this organizational effort will lead to more word-lite copy and increase readership.
This inspirational plan to take pounds of your documents is brought to you by Claudia Coplon Clements. For more clues on improving your business writing skills, click here to purchase the Better Business Writing workbook.
Communications Cues, Concise, Email Effectiveness, Key Word Key Phrase, Relationship-Driven, Results-oriented