The Internet, the Philippines and Internet in the Philippines

Are You In A Communication Rut Or Are You Getting Your Message Across Effectively?

by Shery Ma Belle Arrieta

It's been proven that simplicity brings in the best results, whether you're a business owner with a product or service to sell or a web master with information to present on your site. These results could be in terms of increased sales or more traffic and hits to your site.

Simplicity here simply refers to the ease of your readers, customers or visitors in understanding what you are offering them. Are you communicating effectively with your readers? Here are nine questions/criteria you can apply to yourself. If you answer yes to all or majority of the questions, then you're doing good in getting your message across. If you find that you're shaking your head more than you're nodding it, then it's time you rethink your strategies and apply the tips here, don't you think?

1. ARE YOU WRITING FOR YOUR READERS? Don't write for yourself. Put yourself in your reader's position. How would you explain something to him so that he'll be able to understand it? Remember that your reader doesn't know anything about your product or anything that you're offering him. If you were the receiver of the message, what would you want to know? Would you be persuaded to buy or try the product? There's a difference between asking dumb questions and asking stupid questions. Ask the dumb questions. Also, make it reader-friendly. This means involve your reader in your message. Make him feel like the message is tailored for him. The best way to do this is using the "you approach" -- that is, write your message using this voice.

2. DO YOU USE SHORT SENTENCES? Anyone with common sense will find it easier to read a material, ad or anything that's written in short, crisp sentences. Would you still be interested to read a sentence that runs over 50 words and four lines of text? I guess you wouldn't. Same for your readers. You'll put them in misery for your verbosity. So write your sentences short and sweet. No fluff. No dangling modifiers, no unnecessary words. How to reduce your sentences? Break your long sentence in two. Get rid of the conjunction "and." If you have two ideas you want to communicate, don't lump them in one sentence. Separate them.

3. IS YOUR WRITING STYLE CONVERSATIONAL? There's nothing better than keeping your readers interested in reading a clear, simple, easy-to-understand and conversational material. Eventually, they'll be persuaded to buy or try out your products and services or come back again and again to your web site. What's the key here? Write like you talk. Get intimate with your readers. Why sound all business-like and formal and risk alienating your readers and customers when you can communicate with them as if you're chatting? Informality will make them relaxed and more receptive to what you're offering them. How do you write the talk? Simple. Use pronouns -- You, I, We, They. Take advantage of colloquial terms such as OK, get movin', sure thing. Simple words are the keys! Why use "appointment" when you can use the less formal "date"? Or why not "partner" for "associate"? Why write "Enclosed are the information you requested from us" when you can write "Here's the info you asked for"?

4. DO YOU USE SIMPLE WORDS? Here's an extension of Question number 3. Big words tend to intimidate people. If you use big words to impress other people, then you'll lose potential customers if you keep it up. Your readers want what you're saying to be in clear, short and simple terms. Big words will annoy them and distract them from understanding what they're really reading. Before you go off spewing those heavy words, think back to your original goal -- to communicate with your readers effectively. Pompous language won't help you with your goal. Don't be afraid to write materials in plain English. At the end, you want your readers to say the big word -- YES -- in response to what you've let them read. Making them say YES is best achieved when you use the simple words.

5. DO YOU GO STRAIGHT TO THE POINT? I hope you do, otherwise, you'll be wasting time and boring your readers, turning them off at the worst. You're not writing long prose. You don't have time to waste words and introductions. If your objective is to grab your reader's attention, keep them reading, and finally persuaded, then being gentle with them won't work. Go at them with a bang! Show them in the beginning that you have what they need and they'll only get it from you. Don't fall into the trap of "warming up" during the first paragraph. Instead of wasting a paragraph explaining the origin of things to them, dive in right away and tell them why they need what you have. Avoid being dramatic. It won't work. You're aim is to communicate, sell and gain their trust, not give them empty rhetorics.

6. ARE YOU CONCISE? This question complements Question number 5. Even though you go straight to the point, you have to ask yourself if you're being concise. The most effective copies or ads weren't written in one-shot. They were rewritten. Unnecessary words trimmed, redundancies removed and the passive voice changed into the active voice. Why write "free gift" when you can simply use "gift"? After all, it is understood that a gift IS free. Why not "yearly" instead of "on an annual basis"? Why use "in the form of" when you can use the two-letter word "as"?

7. DO YOU AVOID SEXIST LANGUAGE? Nowadays, it's not "salesman" but "salesperson." Sexist language offends some people, so you have to be careful with your language. Offend some and you lose some sales. How do you avoid sexist language? Rewrite your material. Often doing so eliminates any reference to gender. Instead of "the president called a meeting of his operations staff," write "the president called an operations staff meeting." Use "he" and "she," and "his" and "her." This works if you write simple sentences. You can also use plurals. This way you won't have to use single possessives.

8. DOES YOUR WRITING FLOW SMOOTHLY? Even if you use short sentences and clear and simple words, your writing should flow smoothly. The best way to do this is to read your copy aloud. Listen for any choppiness. You may have used way too many short sentences that your copy sounds like a robot is talking when read aloud. Vary your sentence length. You can also use transition words and phrases such as "meanwhile," "another," "also" and "however."

9. IS YOUR WRITING PERSUASIVE? If you're able to persuade your readers -- make them buy your product, get them to visit your site again and again, or make them act on your aim -- then you have successfully and effectively communicated with them.

ISSUE 17 MAY - JUNE 2000
I S S N   0119-7088

Caught in the Net
Assaulted Online
by Angela Giles Klocke

Men, Relationships and the Internet
by Brett Krkosska

The Top Net News In May

Newbie 101
Are You In A Communication Rut Or Are You Getting Your Message Across?
by Shery Ma Belle Arrieta

Web Tips
by Deborah Anderson

How To Sell Your Website or Domain Name For Big Money
by Kevin Nunley

Is Your Domain Name A Trademark Infringement?
by Shelley Lowery

The Importance of Having Your Own Domain Name
by Sumantra Roy

My Blue Room
Alcoholics Anonymous
by Meg R

by S

The Dollar Stretcher
Secrets Save 25% on Groceries
by Gary Foreman

Pay Yourself First
by Gary Foreman

This Month's Secret Assets
Angela Giles Klocke
Colleen Moulding
Deborah Anderson
Kevin Nunley
Shelley Lowery
Sumantra Roy
Meg R
Brett Krkosska
Gary Foreman
Shery Ma Belle Arrieta

We're looking for contributors and section editors. Interested? EMAIL us.

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