Have you tried receiving one of those incomprehensible mails, that don’t make any sense no matter how many times you read it? It’s really frustrating, because 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 to avoid 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 meaning to, you create a distance between you and your clients
You might have texts that have to be really concise, but it doesn’t mean that they have to be boring. Even your business terms can be loosened up enough that your clients get a feeling that there’s a real person behind the company.
The way you communicate, even in 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 even personality.
Check your correspondance 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 the really quick e-mails you send off. They get so rushed sometimes, that the logic disappears. An innocent comment can be percieved as much more serious than intended, ironi doesn’t always come across as such and a negative 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 communication. A lot of user guides would be much more helpful as videos, for examples.
What works for me is that I try to put myself in the shoes of my clients. After I write something, I ususally 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?