We’re bombarded with words, all day, every day – emails, brochures, reports, letters, ads, speeches, articles, PowerPoint presentations and much, much more.
You can’t afford to let your business communications get lost in the crowd – not if you want to inspire your customers to buy, encourage your employees to work harder, or simply invite associates to a business luncheon.
Here are a few ways to make your messages stand out.
Know your audience
It’s an old saying in the advertising business: A message aimed at everyone often appeals to no one.
To communicate effectively, you have to know your readers. Are they familiar with your subject? Are they likely to resist your message? Are they old or young, urban or rural, highly educated or not?
Knowing your readers makes it easier for you to answer everyone’s most pressing question: “What’s in it for me?”
Know your message
Before typing a word, decide what you’re trying to achieve. Do you simply want to share information? Do you need to explain a difficult concept? Or do you want to inspire your readers to act? Most importantly, what is your key message?
Think like a reporter
When you’re closely involved with a topic, it’s easy to overlook the obvious. For example, it’s astonishing how many websites for hotels and restaurants don’t include one vital piece of information: The address. Make sure your document includes the answers to who, what, where, when, why and how.
Keep it tight
Short sentences, short paragraphs and short documents have a better chance of capturing readers’ attention. That’s particularly true of emails and other electronic documents because we read more slowly on screen than on paper.
Make it plain and simple
People often skim documents for key information before deciding to read the whole thing. Make it easy for them.
- Write a clear subject line for your email (“Read this now” doesn’t cut it) or a clear headline for your article.
- Put deadlines and other vital points in bold.
- Break up messages with descriptive subheads.
- Put lists in bullet format (like this).
- Make sure the most important information is at the top.
Spell checkers are useful tools, but they’re far from perfect. They’ll rarely alert you when you’ve used an actual word in the wrong context—just ask anyone who has ever invited customers to contact the “sales manger.” Proofread your documents before printing them or hitting “send.”
See our online business writing course