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4 ways business communication goes wrong

We must all know some of the rules of Business Communication. Write clearly. Be honest. Stick to the point. Use compelling words. Make lists. Use bullets. Don’t use bullets. Create a story. Include a call to action. Check spelling. It’s a long list!

So, why does so much corporate and business communication fail? Here are just a few reasons I’ve learned from friends, and from writing and reading countless brochures, proposals, product sheets, direct mail, advertising, websites, and blogs. What do you think though?

1. It’s way too long

Readers can’t take in much beyond their short attention spans. We’ve had to learn how to filter out the unimportant bits. We tend to ignore adjectives and other decorations. What we really want is to get straight to the content. Twitter is one way to practice concise writing.

2. It’s way too complex

How often does a proposal, brochure, or blog leave you flummoxed? Who even looks at the Readability Statistics that appear after Microsoft Word’s spelling and grammar checks? They give an idea about the level of expertise readers need.

3. It’s corporate gobbledegook

Rarely used, long, fashionable, and industry specific words fill corporate communications. But, have you noticed how the most important things use the shortest words? Life and death. Love and hate. War and peace. Truth and lies. Sad and happy. Scared and brave. We use long words for specific, less fundamental things.

4. It’s cold

Business people try to sound ‘business like’. But, that hides their passion. We use corporate communication to change our readers. We want them to act. Or we want them to think differently about an issue we care about. That’s not easy when we don’t reveal our feelings.
These are just four reasons why I think business communication goes wrong. Please share your own. Or tell us about bad corporate and business communications you’ve seen. Hedley Clark (a friend of mine and an experienced MD) recently told me what he thinks business people need to apply the new rules: courage.