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Clear, compelling writing is a lot like a good conversation.
All of that would bore them, but we’re guilty of every single one when we sit down to write.
What works: Conversational language. The better you can capture a literal human interaction in your email, memo, or update, the more trustworthy and engaging you’ll be for your readers. Just 7% of U.S. employees strongly agree communication is accurate, timely and open where they work, according to Gallup. But when it is present, it builds relationships, trust and spurs success.
Why it works: It’s easy to parse and absorb. Beyond that, studies have shown simple language — especially in professional writing — is a mark of confidence. When clunky prose and jargon pop up, it usually stems from junior folks trying to sound smart.
How to do it: Whatever you’ve written, read it aloud. Then, rewrite any phrase that sounded clumsy or made you run out of breath. Better — start by speaking whatever you need to share, then write down those literal words. As you read it back, push yourself to:
Between the lines: This works for every kind of communication. Imagine closing an important new client. You have 20 seconds to tell your SVP before they step into a status meeting. What do you say?
The bottom line: Audience-first writing means meeting readers where they are, and writing the way they talk. If the words you write aren’t the same ones you’d speak, stop and try again.