By: Lisa Rollison on December 1st, 2020
Cut through the Noise: Ensure Clear, Concise, and Effective Communication
What I Learned from Don Crawley on Effective Written Business Communication
Over the last eight months, technology solution providers have made drastic changes to the way they communicate with clients and prospects. Distributed workforces on both sides are relying heavily on collaboration tools and written communication to keep business running smoothly. With inboxes bursting at the seams, how can you ensure your team’s written communication cuts through the noise and achieves its intended goal? Keep reading for tips to help improve your communication skills.
Fundamentals of Business Writing with Don Crawley, IT Customer Service Speaker
I had the opportunity to sit through Don Crawley’s presentation on Fundamentals of Business Writing at IT Nation Connect, where Don highlighted 12 key points to ensure effective business written communication. Although it is safe to assume we have all been corresponding via email for what feels like forever, he outlined these helpful reminders:
- Use descriptive subject lines. Give your recipient(s) a relevant preview of what the message contains through short, descriptive, and captivating subject lines.
- Personalize! As Dale Carnegie said, “A person’s name is to that person, the sweetest, most important sound in any language.” Check for proper spelling and usage, and keep in mind the impact a personalization token such as the recipient’s first name has on the communication’s open or read rate. However, be sure to take note of the recipient’s preferred name. For example, with a person named Nicholas, do not use Nick unless that person has introduced himself or signed an email in that manner to you.
- Re-read the customer’s original email. If applicable, be sure to address all questions or concerns to provide a thorough and effective message or response. There is nothing worse than asking three questions, but receiving an answer to only two of them…we have all been there, haven’t we?
- Never assume a level of knowledge. When describing a process or plan, provide steps from the beginning to reduce confusion and time-consuming back and forth correspondence.
- Take the time to anticipate potential issues and address those as well. Complete answers from the beginning empower your audience and cement your role as a subject matter expert.
- Bullet point your response. Bullet points allow you to express your thoughts clearly and concisely, making it simple for your audience to follow along.
- Number instructions. This will allow your recipient(s) to follow the steps as they are completed.
- Double check grammar and spelling. Poor grammar and spelling errors can influence how seriously your audience takes you, particularly prospects.
- Proofread. It is advised that rather than solely using spellcheck or autocorrect, proofread yourself. This is especially important when it comes to reviewing names. It is easy to overlook typing “Jan” instead of Jon, or autocorrect changing Meghann’s name to “Megan.”
- Use emoji sparingly. Consider who is reading your email, the tone of the message, and your relationship with them.
- Make it easy to contact you. Include an email signature that outlines the ways your audience can contact you. If your organization has a national footprint, noting your typical office hours and time zone is helpful as well.
- Use BCC. Unless it is necessary for all group members to communicate together, BCC allows you to communicate information to an audience without the dreaded avalanche of “Reply All” messages.
Consider your purpose in communicating – is it to educate? To persuade? Whatever the reason, write for your reader and not yourself.
Above All, Be Intentional in Your Written Communication
For those of us that work in sales, service, and support, the ability to communicate clearly and effectively is more valuable than ever before. With an abundance of meeting invites and emails comes a lessor amount of time on our hands. Being mindful of when and how we express ourselves will ensure our words always have the desired impact.
About Don Crawley
Don Crawley, CSP knows IT customer service. He’s the author of The Compassionate Geek® series of books on IT customer service. He has spoken to audiences worldwide on the art of serving end users, and he has worked with workplace technology for more than 40 years. Don is a lifetime geek, plus a veteran communicator, based in the global tech hub of Seattle, Washington.
Lisa Rollison is a Business Development Manager for the Unified Communications and IT business unit at GreatAmerica Financial Services. She creates, develops and grows relationships with technology providers. Lisa joined GreatAmerica in 2017 after nearly 20 years in consumer sales and management. She enjoys baking, volunteering, and spending time with her husband and two young sons.