A large part of business – perhaps even the largest part – is communication.
Whether you’re briefing an employee, giving feedback to a colleague, selling your value to a potential client, or informing your stakeholders of how you’ve done this year, communicating clearly, effectively and engagingly is key to success in both the short and long term.
We’ve discussed the core tenets of oral communication before on The Giles Agency Feed – and written communication follows many of the same rules. But how, exactly, should you go about connecting with people using the power of the pen (or, should we say, the keyboard)?
Our essential checklist for a business document that wows
Make sure every document you produce – from annual reports to proposals to press releases – is:
The key to maintaining focus? Planning! Plan, plan, and plan again. Don’t even begin writing without having a clear outline in mind for your document as a whole, and a
n outline broken down for each individual section. Communicate your key messages — both what you want to say, and what you have to say to meet your legal and regulatory requirements, if applicable — and offer an array of information about your various goals and milestones through the year.
Your document should be packed with interesting and useful content – but make sure that it’s appropriate for your audience. Do they either want or need to know what you’re telling them? Ensure that you adhere to a consistent writing style, maintain a clear, thoughtful structure, let your brand personality shine through, and avoid clichés and over-used phrases.
Focus any document on your achievements – without bragging or exaggerating – and value, rather than your aims or objectives. Try to ensure that your copy communicates a sense of energy, of dynamism, of activity: clients or stakeholders should be left with a sense of your ambition and ability. Use strong adjectives, the active voice, and include visuals and personal profiles of relevant staff members if appropriate. You should also mirror this dynamism in the design and aesthetic of your document (as discussed later).
Use short sentences and simple language. There’s no need to arbitrarily elevate your words to convey a point. The aim is to make your content as accessible and engaging as possible.
Schedule in the time needed for various colleagues or stakeholders to contribute information – schedules are busy. Also ensure that you give people time to review. A reviewed document has fewer errors, more support, and is more likely to be successful and well-rounded in the end.
Design isn’t merely an extra step to make everything look nice. It can be used as a tool to draw the reader’s eye and create a real sense of dynamism (see above!). The pull-quotes and highlighted statistics you choose are key in informing the reader of which parts you deem (most) important for them to know. Your choice of font and colour, while most likely dictated by your brand identity, also play a key role. Colour psychology is a very real phenomenon, and something you might want to harness in your business documents to make a particular impression on your audience. Additionally, the very presence of visuals adds information and context; infographics and charts can also be used to display data in a more appealing way.
Finally, your documents should be available in a digital format. This can also add an element of interactivity – for example, why not invite feedback from your audience at the end of the document, or include real-time polls? Digitising your document – and that means not just uploading the print copy, but optimising the document for mobile and tablet screens, and for viewing online – helps to make it accessible to anyone and everyone at the touch of a button, vastly increasing your potential audience with minimal effort.
Our experienced team of copywriters and editors are dab hands at putting together business documents at every level. Why not contact us to see if we can work together on your next project?