Getting the right message out about a business is critical to its success. The way you communicate about your products and services really matters and it can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking you have been clear about what your business does, only to find that the information given hasn’t been received accurately by the potential client.
I read a book on pitching at business network meetings which recommended using an unusual pitch in order to be remembered. I created all sorts of pitches and they did stand out. I am, in certain circles, known as the woman who cures piles. (Piles of paperwork I should point out before you all send me messages about your medical issues). I led with these pitches for some months before I realised that people remembered ME but did not know what I did because I had failed to follow the ABC of communications.
So what is this ABC I hear you ask? Simply this:
Communications which are inaccurate, unclear or ambiguous lead to misunderstandings which can potentially cost money, time and relationships.
Long communications can lead people to switch off before reaching the end of your document.
Confusing communications result in poor understanding and potentially lead to mistakes if information can be understood in more than one way.
Tips to ensure your communications are as clear as ABC
Make sure you know what you want your writing to achieve and use plain English to convey that point with clarity. If you need to provide background to the decision then do so with brevity and stick to the key facts that helped you arrive at that decision.
Communications which ramble on without getting to the point are annoying, particularly when people are busy. However, replying to emails with one word can be viewed as rude so you need to strike a balance.
Most of us like to know why when asked to complete a task and and will respond better if the reason for the request is clarified. Rather than “We need the feedback results by tomorrow at 10am.” It might be better to say “So that we can complete the report, please could we have the client feedback results by tomorrow at 10am.”
When you work in a sector for a while and understand it well, it can be challenging to look at things from an outside perspective to see which areas need to be clarified It can be worthwhile having someone who is not involved in your sector listen to your pitch or read your marketing collateral, particularly for big launches, to ensure that it is clear and no assumptions around understanding have been made.
Culture can have an impact on how we communicate as well. In Asian cultures, a more formal, polite and self-effacing approach to communication is the norm and it is considered rude to make points too directly or forcefully. If your organisation is multi-national then this is a key consideration.
If you are writing documents that will be translated into other languages, avoid words which could be mistranslated as well as words that are not in common use.
The questions in your mind when considering your written communications should always be:
Is it accurate?
Does it reflect my product or service correctly?
Is all the information in the document correct?
If it is an information document such as a How to… does it include all the necessary steps to allow the reader to complete the task?
Is it brief?
Are there any areas which do not need to be so wordy?
Does all the information that has been included need to be in the document?
Is it clear?
Will someone who knows nothing about my product or service understand the benefits it offers?
Will the person reading this know what they need to do in order to complete the task I have asked of them?
Is all the necessary information included?
Could someone misunderstand the information given and do something different to what you had hoped as a result?