Why business writing fails – 5 quick examples

Want your comms to create greater loyalty? Then write for your audience, not for you, Chris Parsons writes.

Let’s face it, in a business context, most of us write to communicate for our own personal benefit.

“Look how great we are!”

“We have targets to meet!”

“Please buy more widgets!”

A woman types on a laptopBut when we write from this place, we secretly fear that our audience might think this isn’t a good enough reason to bother them.

Which, of course, it isn’t.

So, at the expense of our authentic, natural voice, we try to hide our desperation to ‘land’ our message. Can you imagine saying some of the things you write?

5 business writing fails

1. We dress up our terminology to make things sound grander than they are:
“Presenting our dynamic range of turf management solutions.”

2. We confuse our message because of our lack of confidence in it:
“So you can see our Type 1a flange is incredible, but let me quickly tell you about our selection of scented candles too.”

3. We ramble on, giving detail after detail in the hope that something sticks:
“I know this email about placemats is running just a tad over 4,000 words but I really need to tell you about the oil stains on the machinery we use to weave together yellow and green fibres.”

4. We bury weak points in unclear language and cross our fingers no one spots them:
“Today, Global Storage Protection Group facilitated the transfer of a significant number of assets to our favoured partner (HMRC) with the view to helping them lead the way in collaboratively addressing many of the exciting challenges ahead that this fluctuating market presents for any potential remaining GSPG colleagues.”

5. And one of my personal favourites, we make up quotations that no human would ever utter in speech:
“CEO Andrea Kimble said ‘Fugijama’s inexorable advancement co-aligns with the rapid monetisation approach predicated on the exhaustive, algorithmic formulae forged by thought-leaders Duckworth and Lewis.’”

If you want your comms to build a lasting emotional connection with your audience – who doesn’t? – then start by writing from your readers’ perspective. Give ‘em what they want, not what you think you need to tell them.

And then find your natural voice – clear, direct, honest and warm. Be yourself.

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DISCUSS: What else do you think makes good or bad writing?

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