It’s interesting how formal written documents often are. It’s as if organisations think they will only be taken seriously if they use highfalutin and complicated language.
Highfalutin <informal language>: pompous, pretentious, trying to impress
Most people don’t do it when they speak. Probably because they notice the frown on the forehead or the glazed look in the others’ eyes…
When you want to communicate with your clients (or anyone else) on paper, remember that you will often not be there to explain things to them. Here are three common-sense rules that can be applied to all types of writing, from financial and legal texts to technological and medical info:
- Keep your sentences short.
Knowing that short means different things to different people, aim for a maximum of 40 words per sentence.
- Make your document easy to read.
That means making the font size a bit bigger and adding some extra space between the lines. Yes, it might make your document a bit longer, but your client won’t need a magnifying glass to be able to read your message.
- Use familiar words; if you can’t, explain the difficult ones.
You might know exactly what you mean with fund value bands or fractional title homes. But if your client has to put in effort to understand anything (like having to ask someone else what it means, looking it up in the dictionary or having to google it) means that you created a barrier. You made it more difficult for your client to understand. In effect, you’re pushing the client away. Was that why you wrote the document? To push your clients away?
Because, bottom line, isn’t this the ultimate purpose of written documents: to make things more understandable? Wouldn’t it be better to have a written document that your client can say “Yes!” to and in the process, win you the sale, the client’s loyalty and best of all, their repeat business?
We probably all have some experience in buying a household appliance or children’s toys and not being able to understand the user instructions. Don’t let it be yours.