I like to look at a picture of the person I’m writing to before I start writing. Before starting this post, I looked at a colleague's online profile portrait. Call him Phil.
Phil’s a great guy with a catalog of jokes that rivals the card catalog at the New York City Public Library. Phil's problem: at work he writes stilted, complex letters full of huge words. Plus, he adds long strings of modifiers before every verb and noun. His so-called business writing misses his human targets altogether.
So I’m writing this post to let him know, once and for all:
Businesses can’t read.
If you’re writing to a business, you’re not #winning. People read; buildings stand. Whether you’re writing a blog post, a consultant’s report, or an email explaining your product’s benefits, your audience is a human being. There’s no such thing as business writing.
What did you say? Some companies use scanners to “read” electronic documents?
Great. Do you know who wrote the algorithms that categorize, prioritize, and route those scanned documents? That’s right, people.
Simply, there’s no such thing as “business writing.” Instead, write to one person. When you write person-to-person, you write naturally. You write emotionally. And you write efficiently.
And since I promised to say it only once, I have no clean way to end this piece. :-)