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I hope you find my writing and business tips and observations useful. My business and blog are dedicated to helping businesses communicate clearly and reach their potential. Read, subscribe to my newsletter, enjoy! Tash

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Are you communicating well within your business?

Maybe you are, but a recent survey from the Australian Institute of Management (AIM) has shown that only 39% of respondents classed two-way communication between management levels as ‘effective’ or ‘very effective’.

Of course, that means 61% consider it moderately effective or worse. That’s a big number.

Note for micro-businesses (with 20 or fewer staff) 59% rated it effective or very effective while 50% gave that rating if staff levels between 21 and 50 applied. Staff rate this effectiveness less as the business size grows, which makes a certain amount of sense.

Communication message across a bridge over a busg creek

Communicating effectively is the only way to get your idas across to others – and to get them to help you implement your ideas.

Communications is important

On a positive note, the survey showed many people will stay in their current job because they have a great relationship with co-workers.

So the question is, how do businesses improve communications within teams and from the leadership to everyone else?

I think the key is wanting to communicate – the hows and skills can only do so much if management wants to keep secrets and power to themselves.

Improve communications ideas

From the survey itself, some ways to improve that perception of two-way communications include:

  • 57 % believe management listens and responds to employee concerns – so actively listening is a clear method for making improvements
  • 59% stated that being valued and understood is a major factor in employee engagement – that comes back to listening and ensuring communication really is two-way
  • 55% agree and 43% strongly agree that is it important to be acknowledged for their work – communicating appreciation of people’s efforts and skills could make a huge difference in their happiness and loyalty. Yet only 54% felt appreciated by their employer…

 

Legalese or clear English?

Legalese* is used a lot and is not what I call clear content or simple communication.

Legalese is usually both longer and more complicated than is necessary to communicate a message. Most people don’t read it in full because it is looks too boring and hard. And it isn’t truly necessary most of the time.

If you have terms or other important information to communicate with clients, by all means get a lawyer to review it for you to ensure you are saying the right things. However, make sure the information is presented clearly.

To help make it clear:

  • find a legal advisor who is happy to work with you for commercially sound content – at a minimum, get them to approve what is written meets the requirements (and no more) even if they would prefer to include a lot more
  • write a short and simple message and link off to a comprehensive list of legal terms elsewhere. The message alerts people that terms exist but keeps your main message clear – and most people really don’t need to know all those terms. I have used this strategy on product disclosure statements – we state the basic rules that apply to most people and list the finer terms elsewhere for unusual circumstances. The result is that people actually read those documents rather than letting them collect dust as they appear too hard.
  • use good formatting to make the content visually appealing – lots of small print, long sentences and numbered items in paragraph style is very off-putting

What do you think – do you read content that is obviously legalese? Do you find some of that small print information worth reading, if only presented in a clear way?

I can think of a few instances where a document has not answered a question so I have to skim through a lot of tiny terms to find the information. A shorter legal statement with important details or a well set out page of terms would be much easier to achieve the same goal.

* Legalese is the usually complex way lawyers write information to ensure all angles are covered and liabilities avoided.

Your industry writer

As a professional business writer, I sometimes am asked if I have experience writing content for a specific industry.

While I could give a yes/no answer to each person, depending on the industry they are asking about, the reality is that being an experienced writer is more relevant that my industry knowledge.

different industries - engineer, dentist, dressmaker, accountant.

I am not an engineer or dentist, a seamstress or accountant, yet these are some of the industries I have successfully written for

Don’t believe me? Well think about these points:

  1. expertise in multiple fields (e.g. writing and science or superannuation) is harder to find – and should be unnecessary as the client is the subject expert and the writer is just making it read well
  2. someone outside of the industry can provide more clarity about how customers will perceive information (For example, people in superannuation and insurance talk about ‘benefits’ in a way that the general population doesn’t, so as a writer I change ‘benefits’ to ‘payments’ for clarity)
  3. a writer’s job is to communicate a message clearly and effectively
  4. good writers know how to research, and to read information to find the relevant points to put into a message
  5. a lot of business content is actually generic and doesn’t need a lot of industry knowledge – website home pages, ads, media releases, profiles and brochures are about the business and marketing so a lot of technical information isn’t used
  6. experienced writers are used to meeting guidelines and choosing words carefully so can manage even in tightly regulated industries – just tell the writer  any rules and then use your usual due diligence checks. Good writers can use words well but avoid misleading people so may meet the regulations quite easily anyway

In comparison, we need some trees removed at home. We want a professional tree lopper who will do the job safely and appropriately – I don’t care if they’ve chopped down the same type of tree before. Likewise, I don’t insist on a hairdresser who only does long, wavy hair or a graphic designer who has experience with other writers’ websites.

If you need writing help, you will find it much harder to find a suitable professional if you limit it to those with industry experience. Concentrate on finding a good writer and providing them with the relevant facts for a project (or at least reliable sources of information).

Do you disagree?

 

* Images collated from Microsoft Clipart

Reading resources

I’ve managed to catch up on some newsletter and blog reading in the last few days so I thought I’d share some of the more interesting ones so you can benefit from them, too.

All related to business today, some back-end details (like blog security) and some customer related issues, but all worth a read. In order that I think of them…

How to do yourself out of a thousand bucks – the ethics of business

Social media, trade secrets and why you shouldn’t give a rip about the competition – great message and enjoy the graphic too!

Why perfect is the only acceptable business measure

5 easy tasks to outsource as you grow your business

how to keep your WordPress blog secure

Working at home blog carnival –  in particular, I liked the included posts by Eldon and Blogging your passion (and my own of course!)

Customer Service Carnivale

Preparing business for difficult times 

Happy reading! If you have any comments on these posts, I’d love to hear them…