You sit down to write an important report or email to a customer, boss, or colleague. After a lot of effort, click on "Send". You have described your strategies in great detail. You have set expectations and made recommendations. Then your reader comes back to you with the most disappointing answer from all:

"Oh, this email? I haven't had a chance to read it. "

You could blame your audience for being too impatient to read your band. But as Dale Carnegie said, "Instead of judging people, we try to understand them." Your multi-part argument about the value of automated bids may be critical to you, but long emails and detailed reports can be daunting. When the audience cools their coffee, their audience thinks: "Ok … I don't have time to read this." Whose fault is that? It is the writer's fault.

How can you improve your writing to make a message clearer? How can you reduce the reader's fear? Below are 5 tips on how to make writing easier so that you can easily convince your audience and ensure that your messages are read.

1. Know when you should NOT be writing

In the work-from-home world of COVID-19, you cannot go to a colleague's desk. However, you can meet a colleague or customer on a Slack chat or video call and share exactly what you mean on the screen, instead of stumbling to write overly descriptive words.

When you sit down to write, set a timer. If it takes longer than 3-5 minutes to write your message, consider another form of communication. Instead, reach your audience in real time, even if it only takes a few minutes.

If in doubt, say so with a screenshot. One tool I think is invaluable is the Lightshot extension, which you can use to comment on your screenshots as follows:

2. Know your audience

All good writing begins with the audience in mind. Here are a few things to consider before you sit down to write:

  • What is your knowledge base?
    • Will you understand marketing jargon?
    • Are they "looped in" or do they need a history lesson?
    • Do they match the KPIs and goals you set?
  • What are your expectations?
    • Does your audience think you are credible or do you need to gain their trust?
    • How "deep in the weeds" do you want to go?
    • What is your professional background?
    • What is at stake?
      • Is there a boss to impress or a promotion they are chasing?
  • What time commitment do you require from them?
    • Are you busy? How much time do you have to read your message?
      • C-Suite target groups generally need more brevity than their colleagues.

If you know all of these things about your audience, you can take the next step of simple writing:

3. Sketch your thoughts

It may seem tedious to plan your writing before putting the pen on paper, but outlines help you identify the key points and remove the fluff.

4. Use bullets wherever you can

The effects of bullets are clear. Would you rather read this email, which only contains one large block of text:

Email without bullets

… Or this email, in which the most important measures and recommendations for the next steps are listed?

Bulleted email

5. Simplify and then further simplify

Business writing is full of unnecessary words and technical language. It is best to be simple and clear. A great way to check yourself is to use this handy checklist of 93 ways to make writing Writers Write easier. Weak sentences can be replaced by simple, effective words. Using overly complex words can harm your reputation by implying that you are trying too hard to impress the reader, and this may be perceived as less professional.

Here is an example of writing that is too complicated:

  • We could provide a master list of undesirable college, course, and educational keywords that we use in all Hanapin / Brainlabs accounts that we could use. This list is attached. We could implement it if you want.

Here is a better version of the same message:

  • In the appendix you will find a main list of negative keywords that target educational queries. We recommend adding this list to all campaigns to immediately improve relevant search targeting.

And here's another “best” version of the same message:

  • In the appendix you will find a list of negative keywords to exclude educational queries. With your approval, we'll add this list to all campaigns. The additions improve search relevance.

Other wisdom nuggets to simplify your writing:

  • If possible, use the active tense to draw your reader's attention.
    • For example, avoid "We want the tests to be included" in favor of "The test will be included."
  • Instead of weak words like "could", "could", "maybe" and "we think" use a stronger language like "we recommend", "will" and "with your consent", followed by the action your team plans to take .
    • The "Just Not Sorry" Gmail plugin warns you when you write emails with words that undermine your message
  • Instead of using "After a certain time …", replace it with actual data and always use ETAs to eliminate doubts about the delivery time.
  • Instead of using "A large percentage of …", replace it with actual percentages and dates.

If you want to take your writing to the next level, here are some resources for more learning:


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