inCredible Messages Blog

Latest "Business Writing Techniques" Posts

Expert Advice on Avoiding Communication Overload

John Medina, accomplished scientist and author of Brain Rules (2008), reports that the most common communication mistake is “[r]elating too much information with not enough time to connect the dots.”

Medina is not alone in suggesting we refrain from overloading our readers and listeners with information.  Gar Reynolds, in Presentation Zen, demonstrates that less is more in both words and graphics.  It makes sense for us as communicators to make fewer points people will remember than to bombard audiences with everything we know.

Knowing what to cut is both a skill and a discipline.  It begins with knowledge of your goals and your audience.  It ends with a certain amount of humility.  Just because you know something doesn’t mean you have to say it.

Also, just because you say something doesn’t mean your audience knows what to do with it.  Making the assumption that readers and listeners easily make the jump–from theory to their own situation–is dangerous. 

Posted by Bonnie Budzowski in Writing Mistakes and How to Fix Them, How to Write Content to Attract Clients, Business Writing Techniques, Clear, Concise and Compelling Writing.

Six Proven Strategies for Clear, Concise, and Compelling Writing

Would you like your writing to be more clear, concise, and compelling? This article covers six proven strategies to move you there.  You’ll find that the strategies overlap and build upon each other. While each strategy will bring you closer to the goal of clear, concise,and compelling writing, used in combination, these strategies really boost the power of your writing.

Posted by Bonnie Budzowski in Article Marketing to Boost Your Business, Writing Mistakes and How to Fix Them, How to Write Content to Attract Clients, Business Writing Techniques, Multipurpose Content, Clear, Concise and Compelling Writing, Creating Content to Build Your Business.

Overcome Writer’s Block with this Proven Technique #3

Tackling a big writing project, it’s easy to get bogged down and twisted up with details.  This aspect of writer’s block occurs when you struggle to communicate the overarching structure because you are overwhelmed with many details.  It might also occur when you have readers or audience members who require differing levels of detail.  When this happens, follow the failsafe technique of Light, Layered, and Linked.

I discovered the Light, Layered and Linked approach in a book called Writing for the Information Age by Bruce Ross Larson, published in 2002.  These three Ls have been a guiding force in everything I’ve written since.  The three Ls help me to overcome writer’s block by reminding me where I should start.  They also help my writing to be more clear, concise, and compelling.

Posted by Bonnie Budzowski in Business Writing Techniques, Multipurpose Content, Overcome Procrastination.

What is Credibility and Why Do You NEED to Care

When asked about the definition of credibility, you might say, “I know it when I see it,”—like I know friendly or likeable.  When pressed, however, do you really know the definition of credibility?

Don’t be fooled into thinking this is an academic or unimportant question.  Credibility is positively correlated to success in every sphere of life.  If you can’t define credibility or identify its elements, you can’t take advantage of opportunities to boost your credibility and your success.

Unlike height or weight, your measure of credibility isn’t an objective measure.  It is not something you either have or you don’t.  Credibility is more like a linear scale on which others give you a rating.  It is a perceived quality, one that people assign to you based on the interplay of a number of elements.

Identifying the elements of credibility is important because a high score on one or two elements does not guarantee a high credibility rating. 

Posted by Bonnie Budzowski in Business Writing Techniques, Multipurpose Content.

12 Biggest Mistakes Salespeople Make in Their Writing

Like it or not, salespeople accomplish important work through writing.  E-mail, customer correspondence, executive reports, and business proposals are integral parts of the sales job.  In the hectic pace of a business day, most people muddle through, but they fail to achieve the best possible results.  They miss opportunities to make a sale, build a relationship, or distinguish their company as a preferred provider. Here are the most common mistakes in writing that diminish sales results.  Through speaking and consulting, I help salespeople gain a competitive edge by recognizing these mistakes and fixing them.

1. Make the message visually dense

The appearance of your message results in a split second read/no-read decision on the part of the reader.  Screens and pages that visually overwhelm the reader get deleted, trashed, or put aside for later.  Later, of course, never comes. Some simple guidelines regarding visual design can make all the difference.  For example, use headings and plenty of white space to make your piece visually inviting. 

Posted by Bonnie Budzowski in Business Writing Techniques, Multipurpose Content.

Sales Presentation Background Check

An accomplished medical researcher told me about a presentation she had recently made.  “I gave too much background and had to rush when explaining the clinical implications.”  “Who was the audience?”  I asked.  The answer:  “A group of clinicians.”  If this doctor was trying to “sell” her conclusions to her audience, she failed.

Just as it’s natural for a researcher to begin a presentation chronologically, it’s natural for a sales person to begin a presentation with some company history and background.  Most of us assume the background will lend weight and credibility to our presentation—to make our firm look strong and attractive.  After all, if we have a solid history, aren’t we a logical choice?

From the buyer’s perspective, the answer is a loud “No!”  Your customers simply don’t care about your firm’s history.  They care about you—at least at first—only in relation to their problems and their goals.  Copywriter Robert Bly says it well:

Your customers are interested primarily in themselves—their goals, problems, needs, hopes, fears, dreams, and aspirations. 

Posted by Bonnie Budzowski in Business Writing Techniques, Multipurpose Content.

For Sales Success, Be Different AND Likeable

In sales, differentiation is critical.  If you can convince prospects that you bring something unique to the marketplace, you increase your chances of beating out competitors.  Differentiation—being the only vendor in your area that makes sales calls or offers a guarantee, for example—appeals to the logical side of the sales equation.  But there are emotional aspects to sales as well.

Behavioral researchers consistently find that we are inclined to respond positively to people whom we like.  That means we buy from those we like, we accept their proposals, and we refer business to them.

This principle is simple, and it’s good news to people who are naturally charismatic.  But what about the rest of us?  How can we use the principle of likeability to achieve positive results?

Look for Similarities.  Although most of us intend to be open-minded about the differences in others, we instinctively find people who are similar to us more likeable that those who are not. 

Posted by Bonnie Budzowski in Business Writing Techniques, Multipurpose Content.

Boost Productivity: Prepare Your Next Speech or Report in Hollywood Style

No matter what your area of expertise, be it administration, sales, service, or something else, your job includes crafting and delivering messages. Preparing these messages is time-consuming. The pressure to communicate, in the face of other pressing commitments, can also be anxiety-producing. As a result, many professionals waste time in procrastination, perfectionism, and eleventh-hour writer’s block.

Addressing issues around anxiety can be complicated, but addressing issues of productivity in communication is straightforward. Following three simple rules can increase the quality of your communication while reducing the time and frustration it takes to prepare a message.

Rule 1: Take the Perspective of a Filmmaker

A predictable route to writer’s block is to sit yourself before a blank screen or page, expecting to start your project at the beginning and plow straight through to the end. Instead, try the filmmaker’s approach: work on one scene (section) at a time, anticipating an editing process that will piece the scenes together seamlessly.

Posted by Bonnie Budzowski in Business Writing Techniques, Multipurpose Content.

Reasons Customers and Co-workers Dont Read Your Messages

Whether you communicate to external customers or co-workers, you face a challenge: getting people to read what you send. You cannot sell a service, get commitment for a proposal, or convince people to follow a new policy unless you can get them to read what you send. Here are three top reasons people toss or delete messages they receive:

  • The message focuses on the writer’s perspective. Busy people care about messages only in relation to how the messages matter to them—to their own goals, priorities, and schedules. Present things from the reader’s perspective—and in the order that makes sense for the reader.
  • The sender and purpose of the message aren’t clear. People sort
    e-mails and documents by priority. A focused subject line captures attention. Make the subject line reflect why this message is important from the reader’s perspective.

    It’s currently considered appropriate, and even desirable, to use a subject line in a formal business letter.

Posted by Bonnie Budzowski in Business Writing Techniques, Multipurpose Content.

Make Your Message Concise: Delete Information Clutter

I ask participants in my seminars to describe the criteria they use to decide when to read an e-mail or document rather than delete, toss, or save it for later. The top two criteria are consistent: People read messages that are concise and that go directly to the point.

It’s easy to declare that others should write concisely and directly. Making the messages you write confirm to these criterion is a more difficult matter. Perhaps the words of professional organizer, Patty Kreamer, can help: “Clutter is nothing more than unmade decisions.” According to Kreamer, piles of papers are simply papers you’ve avoided tossing, filing, or acting upon.

Unnecessary information clutters a message in the same way that extra papers can clutter your desk. Get rid of information clutter by taking a few minutes to think of your message from the perspective of the receiver. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does the reader need this information to understand the point?

Posted by Bonnie Budzowski in Business Writing Techniques, Multipurpose Content.