A recent article by Forbes.com discussed some of the unacceptable forms of communication when writing emails and other forms of messaging in the professional world. We found it interesting and wanted to summarize and add our take to their thoughts.
Experienced communicators know how to effectively deliver their message and receive a response back. Well-chosen words and phrases can be the make or break to what you’re trying to accomplish. Even if the message may be less formal than other sent, it’s still important to know the basics of good writing communications to avoid confusion or controversy.
Listed below are some things to avoid. These were pulled together by 12 members of Forbes Communications Council and our marketing coordinator at Window City.
This is one of our own rules of thumb to live by. Please be sure you’re spelling the person’s name correctly of whom you’re messaging! You’d be surprised how many times I get emails from businesses trying to win my business but failed to spell my name right. For me, it’s an instant turn off and I’m not interested in what they have to sell me. It’s such a small but important thing to double-check before clicking send. People value their names-it’s their sense of individuality and when that is jeopardized, people become a little more uninterested. -Sereena Barga, Window City LLC
Long, drawn-out emails or messages can be intimidating at first glance and may cause your reader to become interested before he/she even begins to skim! Try cutting your message down to the main point of what you’re trying to say. People are in a move-fast mentality and don’t want to devote the time to reading long emails. If your message requires extra detail, maybe try outlining the facts in a bulleted format. It’s easier to read that way and your readers won’t get so overwhelmed by all the copy. -Sereena Barga, Window City LLC
As communicators, we need to be mindful of what is often called “corporate speak.” This term is used in reference to overly trite phrases, such as “circle back,” “touch base” or “low-hanging fruit.” These phrases often serve as filler and detract from concise, clear and effective communication. It is best to avoid using them when writing for business; opt for more direct-action verbs instead. - Sara McKinniss, FST Logistics, Inc.
In B2B messaging, it can be tricky to strike the appropriate balance of credible and accessible. Technically accurate language supports brand authority, but there is a risk of losing your audience in the complexity. If your language is too plain, your message may not educate or inspire. To strike a balance, explain technical concepts with analogies and use plenty of one- or two-syllable words within succinct sentences. - Nicole Koharik, PartsSource Inc.
Over the last few years, there’s been a concerted push to ensure the words we use prioritize respect and inclusion, especially when communicating to and about different communities of people. From gender-inclusive pronouns to the capitalization of “Black” and the preference for using “people of color” instead of “minorities,” communicators must remember that language and identity are ever-evolving. - Amber Micala Arnold, MWWPR
Specific jargon and acronyms that are used regularly in your office or industry should be avoided. If the receiver of the message has to search to find a word’s meaning, or worse, if unfamiliar terms make them feel less connected to the message or the brand, the communication process has failed. - Michelle Hughes, U.S. Forensic
Using humor is a tricky business for communicators and brands. Unless it’s on-brand to be funny, think twice before you use it in your messaging. This is especially true for luxury items and more serious brands. As with everything else, if you’re not being authentic when you use humor, or if it feels forced, it’s probably better to cut it out. Moreover, what is funny to one person is not always funny to others. - Kate Barton, Clearview Advisory
It’s a slight shift, but instead of saying, “Don’t forget,” try, “Always remember.” When you lead with positivity instead of telling people what they shouldn’t do, you’ll have more impact and see more engagement with your message. Nobody likes to be instructed when they haven’t asked for instruction; they want to be inspired. - Melissa Kandel, little word studio
Avoiding cultural appropriation should be a top mandate for all marketing professionals. As brand communications become more conversational, the pull to use slang for clever hooks can be strong. But using a phrase born from a marginalized community for profit is insensitive, at best. If you’re not sure where a new mainstream phrase originated, a quick internet search can save you from embarrassment. - Ellen Sluder
Long, drawn-out emails or messages can be intimidating at first glance and may cause your reader to become interested before he/she even begins to skim! Try cutting your message down to the main point of what you’re trying to say. People are in a move-fast mentality and don’t want to devote the time to reading long emails. If your message requires extra detail, maybe try outlining the facts in a bulleted format. It’s easier to read that way and your readers won’t get so overwhelmed by all the copy.
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