After studying this chapter, you will be able to
“People have just gone ahead and experimented. There are some very interesting models emerging.” —Ben Edwards Manager of Investor Communications, IBM www.ibm.com
1 Describe the three-step writing process 2 List four questions that can help you test the purpose of your message 3 Describe the importance of analyzing your audience and identify the six factors you should consider when developing an audience profile
4 Discuss gathering information for simple messages and identify three attributes of quality information
5 List factors to consider when choosing the most appropriate medium for your message
6 Explain why good organization is important to both you and your audience 7 Summarize the process for organizing business messages effectively
After launching a breakthrough podcasting series called “IBM and the Future of . . .” as a way of letting IBM experts share knowledge on a wide range of topics with customers and investors, the company made podcasting tools available to all its employees, then sat back to see how they might take advantage of this exciting new medium. Not surprisingly for a company full of bright, creative people, IBM staffers began distributing a wide variety of messages via podcast. One gained an instant following by podcasting about the daily challenges and rewards of being a mobile information worker. Another saved hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in telephone charges simply by replacing a massive weekly teleconference with podcasts. No matter what the technology, innovators such as IBM are constantly looking for new ways to reach their audiences with effective messages.1
Understanding the Three-Step Writing Process
Choosing the medium is one of the most important steps in planning your business messages, and as IBM demonstrates, the options seem to multiply all the time. Whether you’re creating simple e-mails and instant messages or complex reports and presentations that may require weeks of planning and writing, your goal is to create messages that have a clear purpose, meet the needs of your audience, and communicate efficiently. For every
FIGURE 3.1 The Three-Step Writing Process This three-step process will help you create more effective messages in any medium. As you get more practice with the process, it will become easier and more automatic.
Analyze the Situation
Define your purpose and develop an audience profile.
Adapt to Your Audience
Be sensitive to audience needs with a “you” attitude, politeness, positive emphasis, and bias-free language. Build a strong relationship with your audience by establishing your credibility and projecting your company’s image. Control your style with a conversational tone, plain English, and appropriate voice.
Revise the Message
Evaluate content and review readability, then edit and rewrite for conciseness and clarity.
Determine audience needs and obtain the information necessary to satisfy those needs.
Produce the Message
Use effective design elements and suitable layout for a clean, professional appearance.
Select the Right Medium
Choose the best medium for delivering your message.
Proofread the Message
Review for errors in layout, spelling, and mechanics.
Compose the Message
Choose strong words that will help you create effective sentences and coherent paragraphs.
Organize the Information
Define your main idea, limit your scope, select a direct or an indirect approach, and outline your content.
Distribute the Message
Deliver your message using the chosen medium; make sure all documents and all relevant files are distributed successfully.
message you send, you can reduce the time and energy it takes to achieve this goal by following a clear and proven three-step process (see Figure 3.1): ■