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Communications

If you’ve got something to say, say it

Good communications leave a clear message in the mind (and heart) of the receiver. They may have to reflect and process the meaning a little (for personal understanding and memory) but the message should be clear, relevant and unambiguous enough to ‘stick’ with the audience.

Waffle, rhetoric and superfluous details can dilute your message and leave your audience confused about the reason for your comms. A few simple considerations can keep your messages brief and to the point.

Concise and succinct

Say what you mean, mean what you say and get out. Don’t smother your message in blurb, just be clear, concise and succinct. Remove superfluous words from every sentence and delete any sentence or paragraph that doesn’t directly support your primary message.

People need context in order to understand and care about your primary message, so take care not to strip your comms to the bone; in general, you’re not ‘issuing a proclamation / order’ so don’t write as if you are, give details and background where it’s valuable to do so.

Imagine if this entire article just said ‘be succinct; reduce your communications and don’t stray from your singular message‘ – it’s a concise message for sure, but is it clear enough to be relevant to you without the context that I’m now providing?

Considerations

Sentences should perform one task, so don’t overload sentences with too many clauses. Paragraphs should consider one theme or concept, so break up your writing with plenty of paragraphs and whitespace.
Always review your work and remove unneeded words. Change complex words (like ‘superfluous’) to simpler words or phrases, unless you know your audience will appreciate the ten dollar words (and you better be certain…).

Proof-read backwards, checking each word one at a time from the end to the start – this way your eyes can’t skip familiar words and you’ll never miss a spelling mistake again!

Give some context; don’t be so blunt that your tone becomes brusque (as mine often can) – provide links to other articles to offer further context and info.

If you’re being ultra-concise, like in an informative email or very short briefing document, end on a softer, human note, like this:

“From the 19th of September, kilobox communiqué will be seeking quality relationships with other writers and blog publishers. Please contact Wedge without delay.

“We hope that by fostering close relationships with interesting people, we can broaden our understanding of the communications and the larger writing community. Your help in meeting great writers and great people would be very much appreciated.”

See, only the first paragraph is ‘needed’ but when it’s as direct as that (even with hyperlinks to provide context) it benefits from a more human ending.

My next article discusses context, and it’s a challenge to provide enough context to be understood while remaining concise, so, have a look and leave your comments please.

I could say more about being concise and the personal and business benefits of not wasting time, but I really should let you go and get on with your day!

[Wedge]

P.S. I’m writing about the bare bones of ‘good comms’ – what do you think of my list of concepts below?

About Wedge

I’m Wedge, and this is my website! I’ve worked within internal communications since 2004, managing intranets and digital comms. Now I’m a freelance comms and intranet specialist - I help organisations plan and improve their intranets. I work with other agencies, and write a lot of blog and magazine articles. I founded the Intranet Now conference. You can catch up with me on Twitter - I’m @Wedge.