Getting heard – being listened to – by saying less

I had a very enjoyable trip to Newcastle last week and posted a photo of the train station on LinkedIn to indicate my pleasure in being in the city.

Somewhat to my surprise, it garnered more views than many of my regular posts. It was not a particularly great photo, nor was it really insightful content… it was just a quick snap.

Now, this, of course, may say much about my other posts, but I prefer not dwell on that here 🙂 … but underneath there was also an important lesson to be learnt.

Short is best, when it comes to communication.

Smart Brevity – write less say more… and in their TED talk have made a business out of this. Apparently, the data shows that most of us never read past the first few lines. Those that do only skim-read, before blindly liking and sharing with our friends on social media.

Feeling guilty….? Don’t be (well not too much, we all do it!). The sheer volume of information, we have to digest is a problem… we all naturally find coping mechanisms. The trick, however, is knowing when to skim, when to not and when to concentrate.

Top tips for communication clarity

All of us, if you have ever written an email or created a PowerPoint presentation, are writers of communication. In thinking about our readers, there are areas we can help with clarity, which in turn helps us get heard.

  • Most of the readers will not finish the article, so get to the point quick
  • Keep it short, they only read the start, so key points upfront
  • Use straightforward language, sentences, and words
  • Make it easy to skim and pull out key ideas
  • It is all about the audience… not you
See also  A blip in time

Writing long is easy, writing short is hard

I have always found it somewhat ironic that writing less is harder than writing more, but it is true.

Psychologically the cards are stacked against us – as a society, we just seem to culturally value more – more time, more stuff, and more product equals bigger value. It is a hard-wired and a hard habit to break (Business books are an example, 250 pages that could be summarised in a deck of 6 slides… but would I pay £19.95 for 6 slides, probably not)

Also, having fewer words also means you need to be more careful about what you say, and even more difficult what you leave out too.

Of if this was easy we would of course all be doing it!

Why this is important… in Collections too

Many of my friends, those in marketing, with English or language backgrounds, will know this stuff already (no scoffing please), but it is relevant for the rest of us mere mortals. And, this is not just you and me, but customers too…

Think about most collection letters, emails, and messages you see. Do they follow the points above, and if not how can they be improved?

Most of those I see have clear areas of opportunity. Getting crisp design, clear and to the point is always a challenge… but it is also an opportunity to be heard, by the customer, leading to better outcomes (and business outcomes too).

Customer-centric customer letters I suppose… who would have thought!

… have a good week everyone.


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