Journalist Sydney J. Harris once said, “the two words ‘information’ and ‘communication’ are often used interchangeably, but they signify quite different things. Information is giving out; communications is getting through.” Nowhere is his statement more accurate than in the world of business communications.
Receiving and understanding information creates two vastly different outcomes – and, as effective communicators, it is our job to deliver information in a way that can be understood by everyone. The process of distilling complex business topics, breaking them down, finding a narrative and delivering a consumable message to a wide variety of audiences is critical and should be at the heart of corporate communications.
Perhaps ironically, the key to effectively communicating the most intricate business concepts is simplicity. In practicing the following fundamental tips, you can transform your writing from complex to compelling:
Identify and connect each point to the core message.
Before you start writing, ask yourself, “What is the ultimate goal for writing this piece?” and, “What should the audience take away from the piece when they’ve finished reading?” Make sure you know the answers to these questions before you start working and keep them in mind with each paragraph you write. When you are finished, read through what you’ve written to ensure each new idea supports the main message.
Know your audience – and keep their thought processes in mind.
Knowing your audience is just as important as knowing the message you want to share. Before putting pen to paper, ask yourself: “To whom am I writing?” Once you are sure of the answer, tailor your language and ideas to suit those persona(s). When you are finished, try putting yourself in your audience’s shoes and read your work from their perspective – as someone who is not an expert in the subject matter, do you understand the piece? If you are finding it hard to separate yourself from what you know, try giving the piece to someone who does not have any familiarity with the topic and gauge their level of interest and understanding.
Eliminate technical jargon.
A common misconception about business writing is that it should be full of technical jargon – perhaps to prove the writer’s knowledge or credibility. As discussed above, however, knowing your audience means adjusting your writing to fit your readers’ sometimes limited understanding of the topic. If your audience doesn’t understand what you are saying, how will your message reach and resonate with them? Rather than trying to prove yourself as an expert, focus on helping your readers understand and connect with the topic. Your credibility will be apparent when your writing is clear, concise and comprehensible.
What strategies are you using to effectively communicate complex business ideas? We’d love to hear from you.
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