You want to get a message across but you’re busy, busy, busy. Don’t worry, I’ve got your back. Here’s five hacks to help.
1. Think about your audience
If you only take three words away from this article, make it these three: Consider your audience. It doesn’t matter what communication channel you’re using – be it writing, audio, presentations, video, or charts – you simply must think about the people you are communicating with. Who are they? What are their priorities? Why should they care about what you have to say? Answer these questions before you do anything else. Because unless you know your audience, and what floats their boat, your communication will sink without a trace.
2. keep it Short and sweet
Your audience could be any shape or size but – whoever they are – I can guarantee you one thing: they are time poor. So your communication should get to the point. Quickly.
3. If in doubt, spell it out
Fancy language doesn’t impress people, but it can frustrate or confuse them. Use plain English and explain your points clearly. Only use technical phrases when you are 100% sure everybody in your audience understands them. Always check your drafts for unnecessary business jargon.
4. Get a second pair of eyes (or ears) on your work
Before you share your communication with your audience make sure you get at least one person to check your work. I’ve been writing professionally for more than two decades but I still love a good editor or proofreader who spots the flaws, errors and omissions in my drafts. If you can find someone who is representative of your audience, even better. Get them to cast a critical eye (or ear) over your communication. Invite them to be utterly honest in their feedback. Then listen to what they tell you (leave your ego at the door) and refine your communication accordingly.
5. Finish at the beginning
At the start of your drafting process, don’t jump in and write your introduction. Instead, draft the rest of your communication first. Then – and only then – draft your introduction. Remember, your audience is time poor. Don’t make them wade through your entire communication before they reach a “Conclusion” section. The fact is, some people will only read (or listen to) your introduction. So put your key points right at the start.
Need a hand?
If you’d like help with writing, editing or podcasting give me a yell. I’m here if you need me. I’m also available to deliver training sessions or speak at conferences.
Clear and Concise by Susan McKerihan
HBR Guide to Better Business Writing by Bryan A Garner
Envisioning Information by Edward Tufte
Good Charts by Scott Berinato
Information Is Beautiful by David McCandless
TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking by Chris Anderson