"Never Be Boring" Communication Tip #1
Write like a journalist; think like an executive
The best way to catch your readers’ attention is to put your key point first. If they have to scan the whole page to get your point, you might lose them before they get there.
Historically, English teachers us how to write with these ordered elements:
Our readers don’t learn our key takeaway until they get to the end. In other words, we “bury the lede” by failing to emphasize the most important point.
Let’s remove the boring and flip it upside down using the inverted pyramid!
My college sophomore informs me he learned to put the thesis up front: hallelujah!
But those of us who are Generation X or Y or older probably learned the traditional writing style.
Make it easier for your readers
I don’t care if you’re writing an email, report, or article. For any kind of writing, starting with your main point keeps your readers engaged.
Many technical reports start with executive summaries. The theory is executives are not going to read the whole report, so we summarize the contents in 1-2 pages.
In the world of business communications and long, meandering emails, we are all executives! We need quick, easy access to information.
What’s the most important takeaway for your reader?
Ideally, you can put your key takeaway into the title (like I did) or email subject line…or in the first few sentences.
Why do technical reports and proposals have snoozefest titles? Doesn’t “No Arsenic Found at XX Site” sound more interesting than “Monitoring Wells at XX Site”? But I can’t convert the engineering industry in one article!
“Begin with the end in mind,” said Stephen Covey in 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Covey meant we should visualize what we want to achieve to manifest it into reality, but the habit applies to engaging readers as well.
Don’t put your readers to sleep or make them lose interest!
Sorry, beloved 8th grade English teacher Mrs. Grenzer. I’m starting with the end in mind.
Stay tuned for the second "Never Be Boring" communication tip next week!
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I help professional services companies avoid BORING by making communications painless and boosting employee engagement, productivity, and brand recognition. I turn lackluster, jargon-filled or technical prose into clear dynamic narrative.