Tag: customer emails
One of my first jobs was as a cashier in a building society. At the counter, I came face-to-face with all sides of human nature — friendly, impatient, worried, aggrieved, confused or plain rude. It was tough, but I found that the best way through every situation was to treat people the way I like to be treated.
It’s the key to connecting with readers too: write as you’d like to be written to. But it doesn’t happen automatically, because writing media – whether printed or online – creates a physical barrier.
As a cashier I had to look customers in the eye and respond immediately. But when we write, because we‘re not face-to-face, we risk losing the human connection.
Skype, FaceTime and other media are helping to bridge the gap, but meanwhile new barriers are popping up everywhere, as written messages — mainly email … Read More »
‘If you’re explaining you’re losing.’ That phrase recently came out to bite President Obama, after he gave a 17-minute answer to a short question about healthcare and taxes.
Healthcare and taxes, human rights, banking, the environment … too many of the most vital messages get beached like whales in our attention deficit disordered world. People have to understand first time. Get it? Got it. Good. If not, you lose.
To avoid losing, answer these questions before you try to explain:
1. Who cares and why?
2. How will I make a difference?
3. What’s the big idea?
We use this approach for scripting everything except Post-it notes. You can too.
Step One: Who cares and why?
Who’s your audience? What are they thinking? And why exactly would they be interested in you? Great if you know these people as individuals. If not then imagine them into life — … Read More »
As a writer, more and more of my words are published online. The more I work with web developers and designers, the more I see of the dark arts of coding. And do you know what? Writing code is just the same as writing words.
Developers and writers are doing the same things – the only difference is that while I want to communicate clearly to my reader, my developer is communicating with a web browser. Either way, we’re both using language to create specific outcomes.
Not convinced? Well, let me give you a few things that a good writer can learn from their web developer:
1. Know your outcomes
When a developer starts writing a piece of code, they’ll always have an outcome in mind.
They might be adding a sign-up box to capture email addresses. They might be adding more navigation links to a … Read More »
Remember science at school? That’s where I learned to dice rats, mix volatile substances, handle electric shocks and melt biros with a Bunsen burner. It’s also where most of us were conditioned to save the main point until last.
Writing up experiments was always the same: start with objectives, talk through the method (saying ‘this was done’, never ‘I did this’), set out the results, analyse them and … finally … give your conclusion. It was similar but more vague for essay subjects: start by saying what you’re going to say; say it, then say what you’ve said.
This format is ideal for Teacher, who already knows the conclusion and wants to see how well you’ve understood.
(Heath! See me about the Bunsen burner…)
But in the real world our reader won’t know the answer until we tell them. And they need to be told … Read More »