Business writing

The pen aka mouse is still mightier…

In the many things taught and communicated to entrepreneurs, there is one that figures at the bottom if at all it figures – the importance of business writing or communication.

A common misconception is that with increasing automation and digitalization, the power of the written and presented word is becoming less and less. How untrue? The reality is that all these advances and technology have only made it more powerful and the process of editing, presenting and archiving the words a lot easier and efficient. Let me outline couple of primary reasons (not all) for this:

Pervasive clutter
The amount of business communication one comes across today is immense and sometime plain overload. Each and every company today irrespective of its size or business is sending or doing some communication or other adding to the clutter. The reader or the target often takes the easiest way out by skipping or skimming it. To avoid skipping your communication needs to either have a customized appeal for him or garner his attention. To work around skimming, the communication needs to be planned and persuasive right through.

Increasing business cost
The cost of preparing any business communication has increased manifold. Primarily the time cost of the person who is spending the time on it, the person reviewing it, the cost of the medium and the cost of reaching the target. This also increases the stakes on its success as a wrong communication actually results in serious cash setbacks not to mention the irretrievable time spent.

Visiting cards of different sizes and types. Letterheads that vary. Mails from the firm that sound different and look different. Letters written which reflect no structure or thinking through. The sheer diversity of media that even basic business communication is all about is high. Thus getting a structured and consistent messaging out becomes as big a challenge and a lot more complex at that.

Moving onto some tips to work around, here are a few:

Start with a manual
Have a manual which clearly and lucidly explains with illustrations the format, type, color scheme and font to be used for any medium that business communication takes place. Be it a letter or a poster or a banner or a corporate presentation. Make the manual available to everyone who is with the firm and make them know that it is inviolable. Pull up the moment you come to know of the violations. On the other hand continue to update the manual and occasionally reinforce the importance of it and the need to adhere.

Have templates for most communication
From a letter to your supplier or one to your customer reminding about delayed payment or a information e-mail to minutes of the meeting, have a standard template for every communication which then only needs to be filled in with appropriate details. Less time consumed, more consistent letters written, less errors and the all round impact is pretty significant. This also gives you the feel and perception of a professional firm.

Moving away to customized communication, just ensure that it is always written from the perspective of the reader it is addressed to. A definite plus is the understanding you have of the person, their psyche, their key triggers and their expectations. Once the content is tuned that way, the next is to lay the priority interms of which information bit is most important to the one least important. Having ensured both, look again at your draft to see if it can tightened further so that the same can be said in less words. Done, run formatting, grammar and spell checks and just shoot off your draft or document or letter.

The impact and benefit of this structured and effective business communication is not all that immediately visible (though in some cases it is) but the real winner which should convince you to take it seriously is that it can save significant cost, time and effort for an organization besides hammering a consistent message about your firm across. Any guesses, why a pen aka mouse is still mightier???

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