A part of
Increase Your Profits:

Business Writing Made Clear


by Jennifer Hicks, CEO, WordsWork


Language Only Works When Others Understand

Are you desirous of apprising the multitudinous assemblages of your ascendant enterprise?

Or, do you want lots of people to know about your business?

Clear communication is essential if you want your message understood. But, what makes it clear varies and ultimately depends on your target audience. Before you communicate, know why you're doing it and who you're doing it for.

Issue #2


Wednesday, Jan. 14, 1998




Purpose

The purpose of most communication is to convey information to a group of people. Annual reports go to stockholders you want to keep happy. Grant proposals go to people who have money you want. User manuals go to people you hope won't call you with questions you've already answered in the manual.

But, if the purpose of each communiqué is not clear, the intended audience may not get the message you thought you sent.

Do you want your readers to buy your product or service? Then convince them they can't live without it. Do you want your shareholders to hold onto your stock? Then dazzle them what you've accomplished while adhering to fiscal conservatism. Do you want clients to follow a certain procedure? Then illustrate, in terms that are meaningful to them, the benefits they will receive by doing so.

A 1992 study showed that nearly one-half of the American population couldn't read well enough to find a single piece of information in a short publication. Nor could they even make low level inferences based on what they read.

That means, if you write to the average reader, who reads at about a ninth grade level, you miss one-half of your audience. If you sell services, you lose. If you sell products, you lose. If you convey essential information, you lose.

This doesn't mean that your audience is stupid.

It does mean that they may not be expert readers.




Audience

"Use a vocabulary your audience is familiar with. Create a context relevant to their daily lives."

Use a vocabulary your audience is familiar with. Create a context relevant to their daily lives. This gives your message impact and clarity. Do this by being aware of your audience and what their needs are.

Put yourself in their shoes. What's important to them? How can you make what you have to say matter to them? Answering these questions takes an awareness of your audience and an understanding of how people best receive messages. The vocabulary you use, the arguments you present, even the organizational structure you give the piece of writing all depends on what you want to say and who you want to say it to.

Purpose and audience are intertwined. If you know why you are writing, but don't pay detailed attention to the needs of your audience, you lose. But, if you have analyzed your audience and don't really know what you are writing to them for, you still lose.

Writing takes effort. Good writing takes effort, too. But it combines the effort with expertise in the language --in the language you use in the industry and in the language used by your audience. Superior writing takes effort and language expertise. In addition, it takes a strict attention to all the activities involved in reading. These qualities will ensure a piece of communication that is clear in its contents and its purpose.




So What?

Back to the top / Back to the Sideroad

Superior writing takes effort and language expertise. In addition, it takes a strict attention to all the activities involved in reading. These qualities will ensure a piece of communication that is clear in its contents and its purpose.


Want to read more?


Go back to
Issue # 1,

ahead to

Issue # 3 - What Good is a Newsletter?


or visit the

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Jennifer Hicks is CEO and President of WordsWork, a communications consulting firm that works with clients to provide for their training, writing, editorial, and research and communication strategy needs. Since its start in 1996, the company has experienced tremendous growth and has grown from a one-person show to a staff of more than 25 full- and part-time people. Clients have ranged from start-ups to companies in the Fortune 500. While their trainers, writers, and editors have expertise in a variety of areas including technology, business, education, and medicine, they are renowned specialists in communications for the healthcare industry. For more information, contact info@wordswork.com
Phone: (774) 368-0514
Fax: (508) 374-8389

Text © Jennifer Hicks, 1998. Part of the original Sideroad.
The new Sideroad is now receiving traffic at www.sideroad.com.