Writing for Results: Very Briefly Indeed
I want to focus mainly on the all-important relationship between reader and writer. So I'm going to deal with the last of my "three Rs" much more briefly than it really deserves. In fact, I'm going to do it in bullet points:
- Remember that everything you write, even a hasty email to a client, will have a result of some kind - even if it's not as tangible or measurable as that of an ad selling washing-up liquid
- Be clear about what you want the result to be - ensuring that you are realistic about what a single communication can hope to achieve
- Stay focused on the result you want, as you write - to avoid overloading your reader with information that may hinder you from achieving it
Perhaps that all sounds blindingly obvious to you? I agree. But it astonishes me how much business communication I see - even the expensively produced professional kind - that utterly fails to observe these principles.
It's all about the reader
Bring to mind the very best business communications you've come across, and I think you'll agree that what distinguishes them is the seemingly effortless way in which they connect with you, the reader. They draw you in. You feel as if you are being addressed directly, in a way that reflects your interests, attitudes and concerns. You feel engaged.
How's it done? Well, I believe there is a bit of an art to getting inside the reader's head in this way. But the good news is, it's very largely common sense.