Objectives, recipients, tone, and style are the first things to define before writing any kind of communication
Writing a good piece of work shows respect for your reader. In this world in which time and attention have become a scarce resource, every writer has a moral responsibility to respect their reader by providing a clear, effective, and well prepared message. To achieve this, it is especially important to be absolutely clear about the aim of your message, who it is for, and the tone and style you are planning to use.
When it comes to business writing, the objective is usually one of the following: to give or receive information, or to persuade people. Sometimes, these two aims come together in a single text: providing clear and credible information is often an effective way to persuade people to do something. The objective is what the company proposes in its text; it must be as realistic and specific as possible, and it shouldn’t be focused on the writer, but the reader: “persuading 20% of customers, by the 20th September, to attend a seminar on the 20th October” is a better objective than a generic “persuading customers to attend a seminar”. Second, it is worth taking the time to get to know your audience: aiming your message at the wrong target audience will make it ineffective, or, even worse, it could damage the writer’s image.
Whoever your message is aimed at, ask yourself: what do you know about him or her? Gather information about their age, sex, interests, opinions, salary… Based on this data, you can begin to outline a set of personas, which are imaginary users who have all the traits of your ideal reader. Once you have defined your target, you need to ascertain exactly how much they know about the company or product, because what you write will depend on how much they know.
Tone is the overall feeling your text transmits, and it corresponds to the tone of voice you use when you write. Since it is not supported by any non-verbal communication, the tone of your writing should be carefully considered because if you get the tone wrong, you run the risk of being misunderstood. The tone you choose can be formal or informal, polite, colloquial, forceful, or more or less like an advert… it depends on the context of your written communication and on the relationship between the writer and the reader.
Finally, your style is the “brand” that gives the text a specific meaning. It is a characteristic of the text itself, and can be purely informative, like describing a procedure; it can be persuasive, to convince someone to do something; or creative, as in an advertising slogan.
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