Business communication today is much different than it was ten years ago. Along with the standard letters, proposals, and reports, we use different digital formats to communicate, such as email and social media. When you have fewer words in which to convey your message, it’s more important than ever to ensure your writing is clear and concise.
In this module, you’ll learn the steps you need to follow to prepare thoroughly before you start writing any business documents. By doing so, you’ll be fully equipped to write crisp messages that address your readers appropriately.
- Lesson 1: What You Need to Know
- Lesson 2: Pick the Appropriate Tone
- Lesson 3: Organize Your Thoughts
Lesson 1: What You Need to Know
Choose the Right Medium for Your Purpose
Effective communicators are always aware of two key elements:
- Their context, which includes their audience
- The purpose of their communication
The context and your audience’s preferences will dictate the medium you use to communicate to them. For example, people working from home often choose to use email. Their clients or contacts may not appreciate being interrupted by a phone call. An email means the recipients can respond in their own time.
However, the purpose of your communication can influence this choice. If you need to discuss someone’s ideas on a project you’re developing, email won’t necessarily be the best way to accomplish this. But you could use an email to schedule a time to call them.
Here are some other examples:
- If you work with people living in different time zones, email may be a useful first contact. But afterwards, moving to a Skype call or virtual meeting could be more appropriate.
- Posting business news on social media to your whole community while you’re travelling can be a highly effective use of your time. But you might want to follow this up with an email to your subscribers’ list to give more detail.
- Making a video demonstration of a process can be more impactful than a lengthy written explanation, but you’ll still need to provide written notes to accompany it.
When a deeper level of communication is required, there's no substitute for getting out and talking to people.
Understand Your Audience
Let’s look closer at the people you’re communicating with. You need to understand and be aware of your audience. When you know your audience well, you can tailor your content and mode of communication to suit their interests, beliefs, needs, roles, and personalities.
Prepare thoroughly before communicating with anyone. This will help you to build or enhance your business relationships, and help you achieve your business goals.
Don’t assume people you’ve just met, and who may be coming from a different context, will automatically share your views.
Find out the words and phrases your audience uses by talking to them, looking at what they say in social media groups, and noting how they communicate with you. If you use their language to speak to them, they’ll appreciate it and feel like you’re on the same wavelength.
Let’s take an example: If you’ve successfully set up a business from nothing, you may consider yourself an “entrepreneur.” But you probably didn’t always think of yourself this way. If you now work to help others build their businesses and you call them “entrepreneurs,” they may not see themselves in that word at all. They may define themselves as “people who want to have a second income” or someone who “is desperate for a change of direction in life.” Identify the wording your audience uses to talk about themselves so you can speak to them in a way that resonates.