Get communications right first time (so, no more needless late night re-writes)

12th May 2015

Very few people love preparing long communications.

And nobody loves preparing them twice.

But re-writing communications happens all the time. You may well have experienced it from both sides. Either you created a communication piece for someone, who said it wasn’t what they wanted. Or someone created one for you, and it wasn’t what you wanted.

Both are, at best, frustrating. To both parties. All that wasted time, energy and motivation.

Even worse, people tend not to diarise “Do some re-writes to Draft One that I wasn’t expecting to do”. So they now have to find some time in their hectic diaries to do them. But there is no time. So it often has to be done outside work hours. Again.

And even worse still: re-writes are often avoidable. If you’d briefed each other better in the first place, you’d have avoided doing some/all of the work again. (Incidentally, have you noticed how a poor brief is always the other person’s fault?!)

There are many ways to brief people well. Here’s a good one:

Before you start creating it, ensure both you and they agree on its:

  • Purpose – what you want the communication’s recipient to do as a result of reading it
  • Why they will – the benefits to the recipient of doing this action
  • Why they won’t – the recipient’s objection to doing this action, and your responses to it
  • Headings – what the main sections will be (one way to think about this: what will the contents page contain?)
  • Style – PowerPoint, Word, beautifully designed, something else?
  • Duration – how short will it be (remember: communications aren’t complete when they’re as detailed as possible; but when they’re as short as possible)

Yes, asking these questions takes a bit of time. But they take a lot less time than doing full re-writes. Which is always worth doing…

…unless you do enjoy writing them twice?

Action Point

There are three this week:

  • For any new communications you/a colleague are about to start, ensure your briefing is thorough and effective
  • For any communications that you/a colleague are currently part-way through, revisit the brief and make sure it’s good enough to get things right first time
  • For more guidance on how to create one particular type of written document – a proposal – click here

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