Are You Reading for a Decision?
Too often reading stuff for work is dull. Worse, it’s a poor use of time (money) and emotional effort.
You’re sent 90+ pages for the next Board meeting. Or a many-slide powerpoint crammed with the text. Or a long-winded email that doesn’t seem to get to the point. You’re bombarded with detail and nuance, but can’t seem to find the nub of the problem, or the question that needs answering.
It's hard to take a confident decision.
It doesn’t have to be this way. We can change the reading experience at work and make it easier to take decisions. We understand what’s going on linguistically and how to fix it.
In our experience, there’s often a mismatch between the purposes of the readers (decision-makers) and the writers.
Writers need to look expert.
So they bring all their knowledge to the document. You get all the options and lots of detail. Your team are subject matter experts. They know what to say, but they forget why they’re writing and therefore how they write becomes long and complicated.
You get something like this:
‘In September 2022 the New Product team was tasked with investigating a GTM strategy for Product X. We reviewed the previous reports from BoHab and considered tactical regional options for EMEA and APAC, alongside impact opportunities, revenue schedules, internal strategic decision-making postures and the alternative options that have been reviewed by the Board and internal sub-committees’.
The writer wants you to think they are credible by starting at the beginning (in September… was tasked) and listing all the things they’ve done. This is tiring to read and you’re no clearer about what is expected of you.
The reader's needs have got lost in this process; drowned in a sea of information.
Readers want to make an informed decision.
You need to know what the question is, what the ambition is, what are the options, costs and risks? You need the question, a brief outline and then the detail.
You want something like this:
‘This report recommends investing £20m in bringing Product X to market next year. It will outline the market for Product X, how we got to the cost, the principles we used and other options we considered’.
There is a clear ask: cash and effort. It then explains what’s coming up.
You may have an executive summary template to help with this. But does it work? Do your writers feel it supports their work, or is it just a series of headings?
A template should work for the writer and the reader. The writer gets a steer about what to put where. The reader can easily see the relevance and can find the most useful sections.
That’s how it’s supposed to be.
If that’s not how it is for you. If your writers are producing reams and your readers are inundated, give us a shout.
We’d love to help.
• We’ll speak to readers, the Board or senior team, about their frustrations. So we can create a programme that fits your organisation.
• We work with your writing teams on live documents. Together we centre the reader.
• Then we look at order. We get a clear ask upfront. This makes reading easier on your working memory, so you can focus on the decision.
• Once the report is mapped out, we work on detail. How to provide proof and supporting evidence. Then we edit, so your team sounds expert. We can even refresh your templates, so they work.
You know inaction is making the senior team’s job harder and possibly holding the business back. It’s frustrating for your writers too and probably causing talent churn.
We could make it better. We’ll save you time and money with easy-to-read documents. So you can make confident decisions and help your business thrive.
We’ve worked out why business writing is dull, when the people writing it are not. We’ve worked in PR, taught communication, researched narrative structures and written almost every business document you can think of. In writing, reading and teaching, we’ve worked out how to make business writing effective.
We’ve studied how language functions. So we can show your team how to produce writing that is easy to read and act upon (and do it in your company’s tone of voice).
Let’s make your organisation’s ideas easier to read and share. Drop Kate a line to read your best story.