“My first draft is usually how I meant it, but my second and third drafts is how I want to be understood.” ~ Selena Haskins
Yes, it’s true: taking the upfront time to declutter and organize your physical and virtual work spaces, and clearing your mind by trimming your responsibilities are the first steps to help your ideas take center stage. And when your work space and mind are (at least relatively) uncluttered, your thinking is likely to become more precise.
And you do need that clarity of mind to create precise, clutter-free business communication—a topic I’ve focused on for my last several posts. Why? Because if you want to make your mark as an entrepreneur or as part of a team or company, you must learn to communicate in writing with both authority and clarity.
The first step to drafting a precise business email or memo is to settle on the main idea you want to communicate. And that is your essential message. The rest of the piece backs up your main point.
Here are two strategies to help your communication focus only on that one essential message:
1. Make a quick (handwritten if you like) outline of your communication, starting with its main point in the first sentence. There likely will be information or “evidence” you want to include to flesh out or back up that one main point—add this underneath in seperate mini paragraphs or bullet points. Then logically tie the evidence back to your main idea in a sentence or two to connect the dots for your reader. This third step is crucial to explain to your audience why your “essential message” is, well, essential.
2. After you’ve typed a first draft of the communication, read through it at least once looking only to eliminate words, phrases or sentences that do not relate directly to your main idea. You’ll be surprised how easy it is to get off track and how much excess verbiage you can cut! That’s what revising and producing several drafts is for: to let your essential message shine through, uncluttered.
You always want to get your point across when you’re communicating, but it’s crucial for business writing. It’s your ideas that are most important, and getting those ideas across to your business colleagues and customers is one of your most important tasks. Don’t let clutter obscure your thinking or how you “want to be understood”.
Let us know what strategies you use to let your essential message come through loud and clear—we’d love to add them to our repertoire!