I think it is safe to say, we all want to communicate better.
I previously considered myself a good, if wordy, communicator, especially when writing emails, letters and other documents.
However I now suspect I had unconcsiously adopted a style of writing that valuedbeing impressive over being effective.
I have recently encountered new ideas about written communication from:
- Scott Hanselman’s excellent Webstock talk
- The Clear Writing with Mr. Clarity blog
- Amy Hoy’s blog, Unicorn Free
These led me to a startling revelation – I was not considering my reader when I wrote.
I had been writing with only what I wanted in mind. This isn’t terrible, of course – communication isn’t effective if it doesn’t achieve what you wanted. But your reader is a vital partner in achieving your goals. If they do not understand, or do not read, what you wrote – they cannot help you.
So I have been trying to learn how to make my writing easier to read, and easier to understand. However, I want to take this thinking a step further. Where it is possible, I want to make my writing enjoyable to read & understand.
After all, a reader chooses to spending some of their time & mental effort (both limited & precious resources), in the hope of extracting some value from your writing. I suggest that if your reader receives more value, for less time & effort, they aremore likely to respond positively to your communication.
With all this in mind, I have made several changes to the way I write:
- I try to prioritise three characteristics in my writing: brevity, clarity, andhighlighting what matters.
- And when I write, I think, “what part of this does my reader care about?”
I am new at this, but I think these ideas are already helping me to communicate better.
What about you? What other ideas do you have about how to communicate more effectively? I’m really interested in learning from you!
(Originally posted at: http://ignifluous.tumblr.com/post/20875805148/better-writing)