Readability should be any writer’s primary goal, yet this is one goal that often remains elusive for even the most skilled Wordsmiths.
That it’s a tough and on-going challenge to connect with readers is inarguable. After all, most writers will obsess over their drafts in order to make their writing relevant and interesting. Just the same, many common Business Communications seem to be written with little thought given to general readability.
The simple reason for this is that writers in Business and Industry usually try to adhere to Organizational Style and Management Preference. Needless to say, this may be professionally expedient, but it also serves to perpetuate much of the lackluster and boilerplate writing prevalent in many organizations.
That said, every industry and organization has its own unique way of communicating, and there is nothing inherently wrong with this. However, when such language is used indiscriminately, especially in written documents, it can leave some readers feeling confused and “out of the loop”.
This is obvious when writing external communications, but it should also be a concern when internal communications cross departmental lines. With many different jobs and specialities within a business, writers shouldn’t presume that inside language will be universally understood even within one company.
The upshot is that Business Communicators need to write for a broad readership. Whereas it may be comfortable for a writer to mimic an organization’s communication style, it should be understood this practice can alienate some readers.
While not advocating that writers need to “dumb down” their communications, it is suggested that
Business Communicators make a conscious effort to ensure their writing is clear, concise, and easily understandable to all prospective readers.
As such, take some time to objectively review your past communications. If, in hindsight, they seem vague and esoteric, then you need to seriously consider rethinking your tone, word-choices, and formatting. An oobjective way to self-audit your past writing is to reality-test it against the following ten writing tips:
1. Write in simple declarative sentences.
2. Dispense with bloated and overly formal language.
3. Resist overusing jargon and buzz words.
4. Include acronyms if you must, but define them first.
5. Eliminate slang and stick with Standard Business Language.
6. Write to inform and not to impress.
7. Be conversational, but not “breezy”.
8. Unify your writing and focus on a single topic.
9. Break up text blocks with paragraphs or visuals.
10. Edit and proof your work.
In the end, effective writing should always trump organizational style for clarity and readability. Granted, this may mean writing in a manner that is not usual and customary for you; however, if you want your communications to be better understood and acted upon, then altering your writing approach is both reasonable and logical.