Here are two ideas that have made my written communications more effective and might help you as well.
First, when writing e-mails, letters, articles, and news releases, practice the strategy the military calls “BLUF” or “Bottom Line Up Front.” Put your most important point in the first sentence or at least the first paragraph.
Let’s say that your department has, for years, covered the cost for a particular training module for all employees. Now however, you need to communicate to other departments that they will have to pay for their own employees to attend.
Here are two examples of the first sentence of an e-mail to other department heads.
As you know, for the past several years, the Blank training session has been paid for out of the XYZ Department’s budget.”
The e-mail then goes on for a paragraph or more discussing why this is a bad thing before it gets to the e-mail’s point.
“Beginning with the start of the next fiscal year, each department must now bear the cost of sending its employees to the Blank training session.”
(Then the e-mail goes on to explain why.)
Your “customers” in this case are other department heads. They receive dozens of e-mails a day, and they may be receiving these in-between flights on their cell phones. They don’t have a long attention span.
If you want people to consistently read your e-mails, avoid writing those that have a vertical scroll bar. Just as one study showed that only 30% of people open attachments, many busy people don’t scroll down. (This applies to computers, not smart phones.)
Second, if you want your writing to be more persuasive, read the book, Made To Stick, by Chip Heath and Dan Heath and follow their SUCCESs checklist.
SUCCESs is an acronym for: Simple, Unexpected, Concrete, Credible, and Stories. If you write FAQ’s, articles, white papers, letters, news releases, e-mails, etc., this book’s for you. It will heavily influence my internal communications as I go forward with year one of my organization’s CRM Strategic Plan.
If you practice BLUF and the principles laid out in Made To Stick, then you should find that it easier to communicate your ideas to others.
Manager-Tools.com (introduced me to the concept of BLUF and no vertical scroll bars)