When writing or speaking to someone, be clear about your goal or message. What is your purpose in communicating with this person? If you're not sure, then your audience won't be sure either. To be clear, try to minimize the number of ideas in each sentence. Make sure that it's easy for your reader to understand your meaning. People shouldn't have to "read between the lines" and make assumptions on their own to understand what you're trying to say. Bad Example
I wanted to write you a quick note about Daniel, who's working in your department. He's a great asset, and I'd like to talk to you more about him when you have time. Best,
What is this email about? Well, we're not sure. First, if there are multiple Daniels in John's department, John won't know who Skip is talking about. Next, what is Daniel doing, specifically, that's so great? We don't know that either. It's so vague that John will definitely have to write back for more information. Last, what is the purpose of this email? Does Skip simply want to have an idle chat about Daniel, or is there some more specific goal here? There's no sense of purpose to this message, so it's a bit confusing. Good Example
Let's see how we could change this email to make it clear.
I wanted to write you a quick note about Daniel Kedar, who's working in your department. In recent weeks, he's helped the IT department through several pressing deadlines on his own time. We've got a tough upgrade project due to run over the next three months, and his knowledge and skills would prove invaluable. Could we please have his help with this work? I'd appreciate speaking with you about this. When is it best to call you to discuss this further? Best wishes,
This second message is much clearer, because the reader has the information he needs to take action. 2. Concise
When you're concise in your communication, you stick to the point and keep it brief. Your audience doesn't want to read six sentences when you could communicate your message in three. * Are there any adjectives or "filler words" that you can delete? You can often eliminate words like "for instance," "you see," "definitely," "kind of," "literally," "basically," or "I mean." * Are there any unnecessary sentences?
* Have you repeated the point several times, in different ways? Bad Example
I wanted to touch base with you about the email marketing campaign we kind of sketched out last Thursday. I really think that our target market is definitely going to want to see the company's philanthropic efforts. I think that could make a big impact, and it would stay in their minds longer than a sales pitch. For instance, if we talk about the company's efforts to become sustainable, as well as the charity work we're doing in local schools, then the people that we want to attract are going to remember our message longer. The impact will just be greater. What do you think?
This email is too long! There's repetition, and there's plenty of "filler" taking up space. Good Example
Watch what happens when we're concise and take out the filler words: Hi Matt,
I wanted to quickly discuss the email marketing campaign that we analyzed last Thursday. Our target market will want to know about the company's philanthropic efforts, especially our goals to become sustainable and help local schools. This would make a far greater impact, and it would stay in their minds longer than a traditional sales pitch. What do you think?
When your message is concrete, then your audience has a clear picture of what you're telling them. There are details (but not too many!) and vivid facts, and there's laser like focus. Your message is solid. Bad Example
Consider this advertising copy:
The Lunchbox Wizard will save you time every day.