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The Write Appeal
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Whatever you are writing, be it a pitch proposal or board report, you are bound to want your reader to take in every word so that they will be persuaded of your ideas - and not only that they will be motivated to act in the way you want them to. If they don't read it, it's not going to have much influence and this can happen all too often when you are dealing with busy people who are reading something or other all day.
Trouble is, we all learn to write at school or uni where we are encouraged to use long jargonistic words and to explain things at length. To get business writing right we need to let that go and understand that our reader isn't our old corduroy clad teacher but someone who's looking for answers to a problem or need they have.
We don't want them thinking 'what a fascinating and in depth analysis of the Baudrillardian concept of simulacra'. No we want them to feel things - like confidence in the writer and assured that the writer can deliver what they want.
So at the planning stage get into the heads or shoes or your readers. Think about what their concerns and issues are, what is going to appeal to them and how you can shape your message to be completely relevant to them. All 'audiences' are self-interested so it needs to be clear that there will be some reward in reading your piece. Plan to grab the audience at the start with something that will make them want to carry on reading and ultimately behave in the way you want them to. If it's a product you're selling then tell us how we will benefit from it - not how brilliant it is.
Also at the planning stage think about what comes after the introduction. It's worth making notes of all the content you want to include. Then group that content into no more than three key sections. For example a report might consist of section 1: where we are now; section 2: why things have to change and section 3: recommendations and solutions for the future. Show examples in each section to illustrate your points and make sure that section 3 is the biggest bit because that's the stuff people will be interested in.
These techniques will get your reader interested and you can keep them interested with the way you use language. For instance using verbs instead of nouns is often a more direct and quicker way of communicating. In case you've forgotten verbs are 'doing' words and they naturally infuse a piece with energy. So, for example, 'I will deliver this on Tuesday', is better than 'delivery will be on Tuesday', or 'this will solve your problem' is better than 'this is a solution to your problem'.
Using 'the active voice' is also a help. So write, 'my company designed the website', because it is more upbeat than the 'passive', 'the website was designed by my company'.
Editing is everything so when you have got your draft together edit and edit again. Dump any superfluous words. So instead of writing, 'the purpose of this report is to lay out points on how to move forward', write 'this report shows the way forward'.
Keep sentences short! An average sentence length is fifteen words. And keep paragraphs short too!
Use positive language. 'If you don't fill in the form, we won't be able to include you', is so negative. 'Please fill in the form so that we can include you', is much nicer!
Use the word 'YOU' as often as is appropriate. It will help the reader engage with the piece.
Write in plain English! Why say 'commence' when you can say 'start'? Why say 'in the event of' when you can say 'if' and what's the point of, 'consequently' when 'so' is so easy.
When you've finished editing read it out loud to make sure it all works and change anything that doesn't. A good piece of writing can boost your reputation and is more likely to achieve what you want to happen so it's worth going the extra mile.
Proof read it twice and make sure the layout is appealing and then present it as an attractive package.
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