Business Writing Tips

I’m wordy – I often get the comment that my internal emails are too long, that my sentences go on and on, that I have more information in (rather than out) of parenthesis and that I never stop talking.

And yet, long blocks of text scare me. So when I blog, write emails  or create marketing collateral, I try to follow these rules: 

Write for a newspaper

If your email can’t answer 6 basic questions (who, what, when, why, where and how), you’re going to get more questions. Get them out of the way right off the bat.

Writing Marketing copy?

Consider AIDA (Attention, Interest, Desire and Action). And watch the Glengarry Glen Ross speech.

More than 3 paragraphs? Pick up the phone

If you’re writing something this long, you really should be talking – unless it’s a legal document, or you’re getting paid by the word.

Fun fact: As Dumas was paid by the word, he’d often include redundant dialogue.

If it’s a long distance, try IM. Odds are, you need feedback and instant messaging lets you get it in real time.

Less than 140 characters? Might be worth a Tweet.

The information might be relevant to other followers. Bonus: it shows that you’re willing to connect with your customers in a social world… so they might be more willing to connect with you.

Drop the siggy

If you’re on your fourth reply, write out your name at most. Also, re-read that rule about ‘More than 3 paragraphs’ – pick up the phone or go see them in person.

Point form gets the point across

Furthering this point, try to keep it at 3×4 – you’re not going to win any Great Grammar Points, but using a 3×4 (or 4×3) format will give your emails a clean, uncluttered look:

  • Use three words

  • And four bullet points

  • Or four words

  • and three bullet points

A picture is worth…

Not a big picture mind you, but several small images can convey your message beautifully.

Put your conclusion first

By the time you’ve written out your conclusion, your thoughts are organized and clear. Moreover, you’ve probably also written out the action you want people to take as a result of the email.

It’s compelling, succinct and convincing. So copy the text, and paste it at the top. It’s what you want people to remember.

How do you write? Replaced AIDA with a more recent school of thought? How do you stay in touch with people that matter?

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Author Mireille Tessier

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