Communication 101

OK, after posting about the importance of blogging for business, I haven’t posted to my own blog for over three weeks. It’s just another attempt to be nominated for the worst blogger of the year award.

As a writer, you’d expect me to follow the first rule of effective communication—To be effective you actually have to communicate. In the blogging world, that means posting articles and information. I haven’t posted so much as a haiku in over three weeks. Yikes.

So, today’s post is going to be about the basics of communicating (other than actually doing it). 

Whatever your business, you no doubt use different forms of written communication to advertise services, communicate ideas, and make contact with potential clients. Your efforts are only as effective as the communication you use. Whenever preparing a written form of communication, whether a company memo or an online advertising campaign, it’s important to focus on the four Cs of effective communication.

Correct—Make sure spelling and grammar are correct. Letters, brochures, and web content with noticeable mistakes send a negative message to your clients, coworkers, and competition. It may raise questions about your ability to do your job effectively. Running a spell check on your documents is not enough, although it is a good place to start. Spell check does not always recognize when the wrong word is used in a sentence if it is spelled correctly. Read through all correspondence, checking carefully for errors before sending it out or posting it online. It is a good practice to ask someone else to take a look at it too. They may catch mistakes you have missed.

Clear—Read your copy aloud to be sure it makes sense. This is also a great way to check the overall flow of the document. Poor sentence structure will stand out when you try to read it aloud. Try to read the document from your intended reader’s perspective and ask yourself these questions: What is the main point? Has it been effectively communicated? How is the reader supposed to respond?

Concise—If you can say what you need to say with fewer words, do so. Business letters and memos should not be more than one page. Web content should not require extensive scrolling. Newsletters and brochures should not have to be printed in 9-point type to fit on the printed piece. Try the skim test: Can you skim the piece and get the gist without reading it word for word? Most people skim correspondence to see if it is worth their time before reading it completely. Anything that looks too wordy or involved may end up in the trash. People are busy. Say what you need to say, nothing more.

Creative—A creative spin on any correspondence or written communication can capture people’s attention and make your company stand out. This may be as simple as using a bold statement on business letters rather than the standard greeting. Or it could be as involved as creating a narrative in a brochure to describe what your company can do for your clients. Just make sure your creativity doesn’t err on the side of inappropriate or confusing. You want clients to remember the creative twist not be distracted by it.

The right written communication can be the key to the success of your company. Don’t underestimate the power of the written word even in today’s fast-paced, visually stimulated world. The pen is still mightier than the sword. Of course today, it would be more appropriate to say, the keyboard is more powerful than the bazooka.

 

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