Additions to my book – Business Writing Tips
I had some useful comments on my book yesterday. An old work colleague reminded me of three additional things that I could (and should) have included in my book … although, as it happens, they paralleled feedback I had given to some delegates on a training course that I had run earlier in the week. Read on.
Make your document LOOK attractive
Yes, the rest of my book is about words – what you say and how you put them together – but it is important that your document LOOKS attractive on the page, so that readers want to read it – or at least they are NOT PUT OFF reading it. If you think about it, publishers spend ages making books look attractive to buy.
Earlier in the week I had been asked to comment on this (above). To me, it looked rather uniform, bland and unappetising.
A lot of the content of business writing is pretty dull, and it is competing for people’s attention … so you need to do everything you can to make your text an easy, or interesting looking, read.
You need a layout for the reader that:
- draws them in
- informs them which is the important part
- encourages them to explore the content of your text.
Draw readers’ attention to the important sections
In the same vain as the above, make sure you direct the reader to the important sections e.g. through using bold, boxed paragraphs, coloured text, colour background, shading (or on a limited basis, using underlining).
Different versions for different audiences
Don’t be afraid to tweak your text for different audiences. To change, for example, your opening paragraph, your key points (or their ranking). It is easy to do on a computer, so why not have multiple versions of the same document. In fact, it is lazy to do otherwise. And it is naïve to assume that readers with different backgrounds and interests will take the different messages you want them to from the same text.
As my friend kindly pointed out to me, my book had followed the above principles, with an easy-to-read layout, with key points highlighted/drawn to readers’ attention (thanks to Fakenham Prepress Solutions, for doing the typesetting), but I hadn’t actually made this point to readers, for their writing.
So easy to forget!