Tuesday, July 23, 2019
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Will the Reader Understand?

The first thing you must think about when selecting the words and phrases you will use in business communication is the reader.  Who is going to be reading what you write, and are they going to be likely to understand it?  Remember that communication doesn’t take place until the intended recipient of your message understands your intended meaning.

If you are creating business correspondence or marketing communication for the customers of your organization, it is important to keep in mind that your customers don’t share your level of expertise in your line of work.  If they did, they probably wouldn’t need to do business with you.

As an expert in your field, you probably use a lot of terminologies that someone who isn’t familiar with your field isn’t likely to understand.  When you proofread your writing, don’t just look for typographical errors and spelling mistakes.  Also, check for words, abbreviations, and phrases that aren’t likely to make sense to your customers.  Consider whether a layperson will be able to correctly interpret what you mean with minimal effort.

Do you know what a GRP or an SRDS is?  How about thumbnail, traffic meeting, or mock-up?  If you work for an advertising agency, these terms make perfect sense to you because you use them every day.  If you don’t work in an advertising agency, you aren’t likely to understand these terms at all.

Just because the terminology of your field makes sense to you does not mean that it will make sense to anyone else.  If customers or prospective customers would need a dictionary or formal training in your field to interpret your writing, they’re probably going to start looking for another business that communicates on a more appropriate level.  When you create a written message, it is your responsibility to use language that the reader is likely to understand.