Mind Your Words

Posted on Jun 10, 2014

Words are powerful things.

They have the ability to convey impressions (as well as information) and as a result they can influence how effectively you generate new business and maintain existing business.

So how do you ensure that you create the right impression with your written communications?

1.  Before you send it, leave it for awhile and then come back to it. This will help you be more objective about how it really sounds when you read it again.

2.  Ask someone else to read it, particularly someone who can be objective and who is willing to give you feedback (even if it means you will need to change what you’ve written).

3.  Once you have crafted an effective email or letter, create a template so that you can reuse the basis of it for similar situations in the future. This will ensure consistency in the impressions you create and that simple items like formatting and spelling are covered.

4.  Imagine how you would feel if you received this message – what impression does it create and could any of the words or sentences cause someone to react negatively? Pay attention to tone (e.g.: does it sound pushy or does it sound like you’re lecturing?) and do certain words have cultural or political connotations that could be sensitive?

5.  Minimise the length of your written communications, as this will force you to define your message and therefore be more effective. Remember too that your clients will appreciate not having to read lengthy communications and this will also create a positive impression.

6. Always check your spelling and grammar, as people will notice these mistakes and rate the level of professionalism of your business accordingly. These may seem like minor things but they can make a huge impression on your prospective clients and it can also give the impression that you rushed when you put it together (which again doesn’t create a professional impression).

Unlike a conversation or a face to face meeting, the written word is significantly more limited (as you are unable to use physical gestures and intonations to help you create the right impression or interpret the receiver’s responses). Take the time to choose your words carefully, remember that they can be loaded with meaning and ultimately if you are ever unsure how the wording in your communication will be received, pick up the phone or arrange a face to face meeting instead – you will be glad you did!