The irony of writing – words kill the idea. Too many words, to be precise. Communication through text is something we use every day whether it’s a simple chat, email, article or announcement. You may not have noticed it, but all the tools we use on a daily basis are meaningless without the written content.
Think about all the people in your company responsible for communication at any level. Writing well is their responsibility, even though it’s not always as obvious as you may think.
Since communication (and therefore writing) is essential for any business to succeed (and even more so for customer support teams), we’ve prepared an in-depth guide to help you write your support emails, feature updates and blog posts better.
Let’s stop for a moment and think of the term communication. It breaks down to two essential elements: vision and conversation.
We often communicate about the things we find interesting, but we must bear in mind that anything we write is for someone else, not for us. You want to be understood and prove a point, not make yourself sound smarter.
A great, example is found in academic and legal writing. They pour out their words on paper in an attempt to impress others and prove they are indeed great at what they do – science, law or academia.
However, while doing that many are missing the thing they’re supposed to be doing in the first place – communicating, and that’s why people outside their spheres are having hard time understanding their writing.
To communicate properly, you need to let go of your selfish desire to sound like a scholar and have faith in plain, simple language. Be straightforward and to the point, don’t inflate things with buzzwords and synonyms you’ve found on Thesaurus.
Think horizontally, revise vertically
What is boring? Hint: The answer is not Elon Musk and his company. A writing that attempts to explain everything but ends up saying nothing: the story should grow vertically, not horizontally.
If you want to write well, you must think horizontally and have every detail in mind, but not everything should go on paper at the same time. Finish one piece before starting the next.
Where to start? Structure and outline. Expressing ideas also forms new ones, if you write down an outline of whatever you want to write you’ll be able to observe everything in one place and know exactly which points need to be emphasized and which should be skipped.
Think of the first draft as a stone that needs to be turned into a beautiful shape or sculpture. There are parts that are redundant and parts that need to be rewritten.
Write for an audience of one
Long ago, Plato said: “Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something.”
However, if you do have something to say, take an advice from Warren Buffet and act as if you’re writing for a single person. His letters are known as a gold standard for business communication, and his secret is simple:
Whenever he writes anything, he thinks of a person (usually his sister) and his words are crafted as if he’s communicating with that person only.
It is practical advice. Knowing the taste and personality of your reader allows you to understand if the message you’re trying to convey will cause the reaction you want in the person you are trying to reach.
If it feels clear and fascinating to one person, it will be pleasing and entertaining for many.
Relentlessly re-earn attention
You need a great opener, a hook that draws attention. Without it, people won’t even notice what you’ve written in the first place. However, to keep a reader engaged you need to re-earn their attention. Don’t let them get bored or distracted in the middle; if you lose them at any point – that’s the end of it.
But don’t despair!
We have a few tricks up our sleeve that might come in handy for you:
Be obvious with the objective
Think about the value for your readers and make sure they understand it in the first few lines.
Say it in a way others would quote you
Words carry power, but more often than not, the selection of words and phrases is not the best for the occasion.
It’s not a Merry-Go-Round
Don’t repeat yourself. If you want to say something again, use different words and change the structure.
A picture is worth a thousand words. Your 1000-words article also has a picture. Walls of text are not a fun thing to read. Use striking headings that draw attention and don’t make it look like reading it would take much effort.
Remember to touch down
The weak ending will easily kill a perfect piece. Recognize the right time and the right way to end your writing and leave it like that. Remember, a bad dessert can ruin the meal.