5 Mistakes That Can Wreck Your Business Communications (And How to Fix Them Before They Do)

Even the smartest business professionals and most skilled communicators sometimes lose focus.  Competing priorities and tight schedules can cause otherwise diligent people to give less than their best effort.

But if you think others won’t notice, you’re wrong.  If you think glaring goofs don’t send the wrong message, think again.  The truth is that your audience — from co-workers to clients and prospects — will judge your professional competence by how well you communicate.

Are you guilty of these goofs?  Are you prepared to fix them?

##Not knowing (or respecting) your audience.%%  Your readers are smarter than you might think and they deserve your best.  Show them the ultimate respect — and optimize understanding and response — by considering their common traits beforehand.  FAST FIX: Communicate with your audience in terms of their education and background, as well as their grasp of technology and industry jargon.  Do you know how much detail they expect?  Are they pressed for time?  Do they share any other characteristics that might affect overall perception of your message?  From the answers to such questions, try to imagine a “typical” reader and direct your communications to that fictional person.

Not charting your course.  Got writer’s block?  It’s less likely if you first identify your message goals and determine the content framework.  FAST FIX: Take notes, outline or “mind map” key content.  Visualize your desired results and you’ll have a much better chance of achieving them.

Not using your creativity.  Targeting your audience and charting your course puts your message on the right track.  To keep it moving, get creative.  Dare to stand out.  FAST FIX: Think about messages, or even specific words or images, that get your attention.  What makes them appealing?  Adapt similar cues to your business and marketing communications IF they work within your essential standard of professionalism.

Not using design elements.  Creative and effective communication isn’t just about words; it’s also about presentation.  Appealing visuals can hook your audience and keep them hooked.  FAST FIX: Examine your layout.  Would extra white space help?  Would photos, illustrations, diagrams, symbols or icons enhance readability?  If so, use them (in moderation, of course).  Think also about typography.  As a rule for printed media, use fonts with serifs (character baselines or “feet”) for body text, and fonts without serifs for headlines, subheads and call-out lists.

Not sweating the details.  Is your vocabulary anemic?  Is poor spelling destroying the power of your communications?  If so, it’s probably time to dust off that dictionary and crack open that thesaurus.  NOT-SO-FAST FIX: Take your time navigating the 7 C’s of successful communication:

CORRECTNESS: Strive for error-free content, spelling, grammar and usage.

COMPLETENESS: Finish your thoughts, data or arguments.

CONCISENESS: Use fewer but stronger words.

COHERENCE: Be consistent in content, format and tone.

CREDIBILITY: Exhibit candor, give credit where it’s due, exude confidence and strive for balance.

CREATIVITY: Take calculated risks in theme and presentation.

CLARITY: Be unmistakably clear.

Bottom Line:

Ignore these common mistakes and you’ll run the risk of a communication breakdown. Master these fundamental fixes, however, and you can send the right message time after time. Want to learn more? Contact me to find out how to make your expertise shine with messages that communicate, illuminate and resonate.


~ by Bob Chenoweth on 05/11/2013.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: