Website in Danish: www.projektledelsen.dk

How to scare your clients away with complicated writing

Write in a clear languageIf you aim for clear-cut communication with your clients, you need to keep your message clear

Have you ever tried receiving one of those incomprehensible e-mails that don’t make any sense no matter how many times you read it? It’s really frustrating, since you end up using an excessive amount of time trying to decipher the message. The likelihood of misunderstandings is huge.

If you work with projects and write to your clients on a regular basis, do yourself the favor of avoiding complicated writing. The only thing you accomplish if you don’t simplify your writing is that

  • your clients won’t understand you
  • your clients will see you as impersonal, maybe even arrogant
  • without intent, you create a distance between you and your clients

You might have texts that have to be really concise, but this doesn’t mean that they have to be boring. Even your business terms can be loosened up enough so that your clients get a feeling that there’s a real person behind the company.

The way you communicate, even on a smaller scale, is part of the whole image of your company, making it all the more important that your writing reflects your style and you’re your personality.

Check your correspondence and general documents and make sure that your message is clear. If necessary; have someone not related to your company read it and ask them if they understand it.

Emails: Watch out for those rushed e-mails you send out. They sometimes get so rushed, that the logic disappears. An innocent comment might be perceived as much more serious than intended, irony doesn’t always come across as such and a negative e-mail may seem even more negative for the receiver. In short, if your e-mail can be interpreted in more ways than one, you can be sure that it will be…

Presentations: Take a look at my blog post on PowerPoint Poisoning.

Tip: consider the structure of your presentation.

User guides, etc.: Remember that these documents should be understood by anyone without your specialized background. With that in mind, you should weed out complicated tech-stuff and terms only understood by insiders. Maybe you need to consider, whether you are using the right media for these types of communications. For example, a lot of user guides would be much more helpful as videos.

What works for me is that I try to put myself in the shoes of my clients. After I write something, I usually go through the text, divide it into shorter sentences, create bullet points, etc. If I need to construct complicated sentences in order to explain something, it will likely be difficult to understand, so that’s the first sign that I need to change it.

Which strategies work best for you?

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