Are You Writing For Yourself?

My colleague, friend, mentor and coach, Betty Cooper, always tells her clients, “Write to express, not to impress.” How about you? Are you writing to impress or express? Too much of what I read seems to be to impress. Let me show you how competent I am! Let me tell you how much research I’ve done! Let me demonstrate my brilliance!

Frankly, I don’t care how brilliant you are. I care about how your writing can help me. In this case, it is all about me … your audience.

To write for your audience requires focus on action. In business we communicate to get action from someone else. So, your first step in writing is to determine what action you want your reader to take. If you don’t know what the action is, don’t write. Save yourself and your reader some time. As a first step, put a plan in place so the outcome is of value to you and your reader.

The next step is to communicate in the way your reader wants you to communicate. If your reader, your audience, wants an e-mail, send an e-mail. If your reader wants a person-to-person connection, connect via phone or in person. Don’t default to the easiest method … for you! An e-mail or text may be quick but if it’s not getting results, it’s a waste of time.

The third step is to follow-up. “Well, I sent you an e-mail and you didn’t do what I asked!” Are you sure I got the e-mail? Did your subject line get my attention over the other 200 e-mails I got yesterday?

It’s not my responsibility to follow-up to ensure you communicated well. It’s your responsibility, if I haven’t responded to your request, to follow-up to make sure the communication loop is complete.

Back to my original question, are you writing for yourself or your audience, the person or people you want to move to action?

Garth Roberts