Join Judy Steiner-Williams for an in-depth discussion in this video Indicating benefits to the reader, part of Business Writing Strategies.
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- Another wording strategy that must be considered is the need to focus on the reader and find words that best appeal to the reader, or at least don't alienate or offend the reader. When we write, we tend to think about ourselves. We try to explain to the reader how and what we were thinking in giving good news, or in giving bad news, or in trying to convince the reader to do something. One of the revising strategies is to turn those We, or writer-worded sentences, into You/reader focus.
Look at this document sent to a potential customer that accompanied a bottle of your company's newest hair conditioner. The customer had asked for and is receiving the sample. If our only concern is the number of times we refer to the reader versus the number of times we refer to the writer, the score is 12 for the writer and 12 for the reader, a tie. But focusing on the reader is much more than just counting the number of times the reader is mentioned. Emphasizing the benefits to the reader is more complex.
The complexity is in seeing the situation through the reader's eyes, and how the reader feels about the message. In our example, the entire focus is on the writer and what the writer wants and what the writer has done, with a negative tone. Look at the negatives. The reader got what she wanted, a sample bottle of the company's hair conditioner. But the accompanying letter is not one that makes that potential customer feel warm and fuzzy. Certainly not important, or eager to actually purchase the product.
How can we revise it to focus on the reader and indicate the benefits to her? Talk to her about how your product can meet her needs, about what she can expect. So let's begin with a direct order strategy, the good news. Next, remove the if. The doubt that the reader will use the product. And emphasize the benefits you want the reader to notice. The price is the last benefit that we want to include. So put it in the goodwill closing paragraph. However, if the price would be considered a negative, then the de-emphasis strategy should be used.
Yes, now the score is nine for the reader and three for the writer. But even more importantly, the benefits to the reader are clear and positive, and most readers will relate much better to those benefits with a positive reader focus strategy.
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- Deciding when to begin or delay the message
- Presenting information
- Getting support for ideas
- Understanding the audience
- Communicating internally and externally
- Choosing the appropriate language and tone
- Using business writing outlines and templates