Creating a haystack around the needle

Despite decades of improvement in communication theory, we still live under the impression that we can inject information into others.

I sent an email this morning.  I said it at the staff meeting last week. Now people should know.

Unfortunately, they don’t and often it’s because we don’t tell them very concisely. Our hearts are in the right place. We want to inspire people and equip them to make good decisions. So, we heap on lots of other information, like why something is important, what we’re doing about it, our vision for it and what’s happening next. Then we add a polite opening and soft closing and suddenly, we’ve doubled or tripled the length of what people have to read.

The real information in there somewhere, toward the middle or the end. We think it’s obvious, but only because we know it’s there.

People are busy and distracted. They have their own stuff to do. They have good intentions as well, but lots of other things to think about. You know what it’s like. When faced with too many words, we park the email to one side and figure that someone will chase us if it’s important.

Good writing is a customer service because it saves your reader the pain of having to search for the point of your message, the needle in the haystack. Extra information adds context and clarity but can also create haystack.

You can still write additional points. Just make sure your main one, your actionable item, is right at the start.  Make it easy to find. Repeat it through multiple channels, including direct conversation if that’s possible.

Have a look at what you’re writing now and ask yourself, which bit is the needle? How much of this might be haystack?

If you’re not sure how, let me be your Department of Words and contact me for a quote.