12 Ways To Get Results Through Business Writing, Part 2
" Our strategic approach will create an aligned vision for long-term growth of our data-enabled services, leveraging our existing capabilities and assets as well as creating new tools ."
This was an actual sentence in an email I recently received from a senior executive within my company. It's long, wordy and full of what Geoffrey James, contributing editor for Inc.com calls "biz-blah."
Leaders have the opportunity to set themselves apart, build a level of authenticity and drive employee engagement when they focus on the simple—not the biz-blah.
Yesterday, Promotional Consultant Today shared six tips and examples of effective writing from James. Today, we'll wrap up this two-part series with six more.
1. Be brief. Some people seem to think they're being paid by the word. Long does not mean better or smarter. (Note: the "wrong" example below is NOT from an automatic corporate jargon generator. It is from a real document.)
Wrong: "In order to focus externally, we must focus both externally and internally (customer's customer and internal alignment necessary to respond), with internal collaboration with common focus/goals by stakeholders accountable for ultimate business results oriented, optimized and coordinated outputs, aligned around the sales cycle and with a proactive approach to higher order competency investments and being unwilling to throw deliverables over the fence to sales teams and trust results will be achieved."
Right: "We need to measure how well this works."
2. Focus on the unique rather than the generic. If what you're saying is exactly the same as what everybody else is saying, why bother?
Wrong: "Our B2B services increase sales and reduce costs."
Right: "Our customers often double their profit margins. No other vendor can do this."
3. Use nouns and verbs, not adjectives or adverbs. Adjectives and adverbs weaken your writing, especially when you try to use them to perk up a dull sentence. Be succinct and focus on the value.
Wrong: "We have an exciting, brand new product that will easily and quickly solve your most difficult sales process problems."
Right: "This product will help you turn prospects into customers in less time."
4. Tell stories to emphasize key facts. People relate to and then remember stories long after facts have slipped from memory.
Wrong: "Studies indicate that some office workers spend as much as 40 percent of their time writing and answering internal emails."
Right: "I sat down this morning and opened Outlook and you know what I discovered? 237 new messages! 237! So, I'm wondering how the heck can I get through all that junk and still get some real work done."
5. Use simple words. Using unnecessarily long words or jargon that's needlessly technical doesn't make you sound smarter.
Wrong: "The facility-wide 802.11 networking infrastructure has now been completely implemented and is currently available for workplace utilization."
Right: "You can now use wireless in this building."
6. Present evidence rather than opinion. Unless somebody knows you personally and trusts your judgement, your opinions aren't convincing.
Wrong: "We have the best service, the most reliable product and the friendliest salespeople."
Right: "We won the XYZ best service award. Twice."
Source: Geoffrey James, a contributing editor for Inc.com, is an author and a professional speaker whose award-winning blog, Sales Source, appears daily on Inc.com. His most recent book is Business Without the Bullsh*t: 49 Secrets and Shortcuts You Need to Know. To get your sales message critiqued for free, subscribe to his free weekly Sales Source newsletter.