Today’s guest post is by Luke Capizzo
With rapidly multiplying communications channels and increasingly instantaneous expectations, one critical piece of our basic writing can be lost: The correct tone and organization to get our messages across effectively.
We’re constantly searching for how to get more accomplished while staring at glowing rectangles.
The answer can be as straightforward as writing internal messages with the same intensity and purpose as the big news release.
If we take the time to care about the affect of each word, we improve the understanding of all of our interactions.
When people realize we value their time enough to accurately condense our thoughts for them, they take us more seriously and not only are more likely to respond at that moment, but to pay even more attention the next time we pop into their inbox.
When the need is for action, we must use words that distill clarity and purpose. We rarely, if ever, write this way without making it a priority, and it never happens without an understanding of the communications medium, the task at hand and the recipients’ needs.
Here are my suggested six focus points to help bring clarity to your writing, and ensure the right message is being heard.
Know your readers and write so they always get the “why.”
The power we wield as writers evaporates if we misunderstand or ignore our readers. For me, focusing on audience is about understanding the correct tone, word choice, and depth of context to connect with the reader. Use technical language that goes over their head or unintentional snark, and it may be much more difficult to get what you need.
From a retweeted tweet to a forwarded email, you never know who will see it, so stay positive!
Especially true for social media, understanding the affect your message could have on a hypothetical unintended audience is critical. Don’t forget to consider the good old-fashioned forwarded email—to the last person you’d want to see it.
Few have time to read for subtlety, so keep it concise and organized. Don’t be afraid of bullets and bolding.
As closely as we should be reading our messages before we send them to the world, we must assume our readers are doing the opposite. Understanding the visual hierarchy of a variety of mediums allows you to craft messages so key points stand out (within reason, of course).
The right tone helps us encourage those we work with to get things done.
With the audience in mind, write to obtain what you need. Incorporating timeliness, clarity, and priority, use the tone that best fits the readers and is most likely to encourage them to get the work done.
Maintain verb-driven, dynamic prose—even in the shortest messages—to keep the work moving forward.
When the goal is action, convey the energy you want to see from the recipient. If you need them to be pumped up, you shouldn’t assume it will automatically happen. Don’t let your communication be what drops the proverbial ball.
After the fact, ask yourself—did it work? Could it have been more effective?
We must make a conscious effort to evaluate and improve every day. This can only happen when we look carefully at the work we’ve done—what succeeds, what fails and what can be improved at each step.
We can’t solve every problem with better communication, but we can move the needle. At a certain point, this approach and attention helps us not only write more effectively, but also think more efficiently about the way we achieve results.
What are your thoughts? Any other suggestions on how to achieve clear and effective communication?
When he isn’t singing or doing double salchows, Luke Capizzo drives strategic communications programs for his clients as an account executive at Identity, a Michigan-based integrated public relations firm. Connect with him on LinkedIn.