The need for competent writing in business has never been greater, yet the quality of writing seems to be declining everywhere.
Why should this concern executives? It’s simple. Your business communications are the face you show to the world –– customers and prospects, employees, potential hires. If the writing on your website or in your emails is sloppy, misleading or just plain hard to digest, your sought-after image of quality and competence suffers. You may talk “quality,” but you show “mediocrity”. Eventually, the gap will show up on the bottom line in lost sales and diminished influence.
Why is business writing suffering? Let’s not blame Miss Perriwinkle, the proverbial seventh-grade English teacher. She and public servants like her have been laboring for generations. But the world they try to prepare us for has changed.
For one thing, there is a greater expectation for speed. Send an email at 3:05 and by 3:10 you’re looking for an answer. Smart companies have learned how to speed up their replies, but responsiveness comes at a price. Few emails are carefully thought out and drafted; fewer still are edited. The trend toward “flatter” organizations has taken out a whole stratum of assistants and mid-level managers who used to double check communications going out to customers and employees. As a result, quality has yielded to demands for a quick response. Often, that’s an unacceptable trade-off.
What’s more, despite the importance of writing well, few companies offer any writing training, even those that spend generous sums on technical and management training. People are expected to know how to write well. When they don’t, little is done to upgrade skills, lowering the common denominator of quality even further.
Most companies agree that “quality matters” when it comes to their products and services. It also applies to their communications.
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