Business communication necessitates the power to persuade whether it be written or spoken. We need to achieve a desired result by helping the recipient of our message give us what we want.
Business writing has to be well thought out and composed because we are not going to be looking over the shoulder of our recipient explaining and clarifying what we mean by our message. Once the email, memo or letter goes out, we no longer have control how our recipient is going to understand our message. It is important to ensure that we are sending a message that is clear. We want our message to be received exactly as how we meant it to be received. Misunderstandings are costly.
Here are some techniques to use immediately:
Know your audience.
- Study the needs, experiences, personality and other aspects of the receiver of the message. Who is your primary audience? Who is the person crucial to meeting your objective?
- What is your relationship with the audience? Your relationship determines the tone and content of your message.
- Are you writing inside or outside of the organization? If you are writing to an external audience, you need to be more formal and use less jargon.
- Finally, how is the audience likely to react? If positive or neutral, use the direct approach. If negative, use the indirect approach where you have to build your case and substantiate with evidence before getting to your main point.
Determine the purpose of your message.
If you don’t know why you are writing the message, then you would have no way of judging whether you achieved your goal. A good purpose elicits action from the recipient of the message. An example of a bad purpose: “To describe the benefits of a new tracking system.” A good purpose is specific as follow: “To persuade the Vice President to approve the new tracking system.”
Write clearly and concisely.
- Use short and simple words.
- Use language that is specific and concrete. Specific words are words that have a definite, unambiguous meaning. Concrete words are words that bring a definite picture. For example, instead of writing “The machine broke down several times recently,” you can write “The photocopying machine broke down three times last week.”
- Don’t be wordy and redundant. The statement “Combine the ingredients together” is redundant. When you are combining ingredients, you are putting them together. It’s better to just write, “Combine the ingredients.”
The tone of your message should be congruent to your audience.
- Write confidently and convey a confident attitude. Be careful not to appear over confidence. Modest confidence is better.
- Use a courteous and sincere tone. Don’t patronize. Sincerity goes a long way. Use please and thank you when necessary. It’s acceptable to apologize but don’t over apologize.
- Use positive language.
Always remember to put yourself in recipient’s shoes.
If you were to receive the letter or email you are going to send, how likely are you to react and/or understand? Would you give this priority? Is the email too long to sort through that I will put it off for later? Do I immediately know what the sender’s purpose is?