Today, more than ever we are gathering most of our information online. We are swamped with too much information and simply cannot read everything. So we have adapted and tuned our minds to scan, filter and delete information very fast.
Whilst this is fine when reading for pleasure, it’s not how we should make decisions for our organisation. If we get the context wrong, what are the consequences to us and our company?
Our communication needs to stand out and be concise, bold and to the point. Our key messages need to pop at a glance and be understandable to the reader.
The principle is to keep business writing short and simple. Write in plain language to ensure the meaning is precisely clear.
Fact: 70 percent of errors in business is due to miscommunication. This can be a simple over order of coffee stock to a major error that will take many hours to rework. Each time you engage in communication there is the potential for you to vastly improve the outcomes.
Why is clear writing so hard?
We need to first unlearn a lot of what we were taught at school and learning institutions. Forget the business jargon for now and leave out the big words. Instead, concentrate on keeping your sentences short and easy to digest. Pay particular attention to your tone and ensure you do not sound rude or abrupt.
We cal all blah on with our writing – it takes discipline to convey your key ideas.
Einstein noted, ” if you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”
Key areas of effective written communications:
- Thinking about your audience, then the message
- Present your thoughts systematically to the reader
- Use an appropriate level of technical language
- Ensure your message is clear with one quick scan
- Use page formatting for a professional look
Whether it’s a hasty email or a complex document, all communication requires thought around our company policy and particular effort needs to go into what you are trying to effectively say.
How does an eye scan text?
It’s useful to understand how the eye scans across the page. The most common pattern when reading blocks of text is the F-Pattern. F for fast. That’s how users read your content. When they find something interesting they read across in a second horizontal movement, this typically covers a shorter area than the previous movement.
When we scan over a page our eye mostly falls on:
- The first line of your paragraph
What does this mean, ensure all headings, sub-headings are meaningful and catch the reader’s eye.
The key idea of any paragraph needs to be right up-front in the first line. The other piece of advice which will improve your writing is to review longer sentences. As the sentences get longer, the reader’s interest and comprehension will taper off – until they will not take in any more ideas. That magic number is approx 20 words per sentence. So the real challenge is to get our content and ideas into this optimum number. This not only clarifies our thinking on the subject it also helps the reader understand our message.
With better communication skills, you can have better professional relationships – and enhance your brand as well.