Watch your language

Eerder verschenen op ZLiCK — 12.04.2017

Language. We use it every day to achieve things; getting an answer to a question, read a paper, write a memo. Isn’t it a miracle how our words form sentences that actually mean something to someone. Everybody uses words, can create a message. But not every message will achieve the result wanted. Even if a specific message works out fine when you give it to, let’s say, your spouse, it might fail completely when addressing a group of people. Why are some messages read by numerous people and some are not? Communication is more than using the right words, it is knowing your audience. In order to write a message that Will be read, you should:

  • Draw attention. Like the title used here. It teases; what is wrong with my colleagues’ language? What, on earth, has this to do with today’s subject?

  • Wrap it up nicely. Ever unpacked a MacBook and a Lenovo notebook? Then you Will know what I mean. Use an attractive layout, make it draw -and keep- the reader’s attention. Are you writing for an audience at the other end of the world? Make sure you know what is an attractive layout to them. Make it easy to read, use structure, be consistent. In other words, let them enjoy the unpacking. Not only to get that very nice article inside (Lenovo has them too!) but actually make the unpacking itself fun to do.

  • Speak the right language. To whom are you talking, what language do they speak? Speaking Swahili to a German would be a total waste of time. Using (the wrong) technical jargon isn’t much better.

  • Know what your audience wants to achieve. If your audience wants to find out how to bake a cake, your message won’t be a success if you tell them how to cook vegetables.

  • Be complete They won’t get that cake done merely by telling them what ingredients they will have to buy.

  • Be an expert. Know what you are writing about. If not, don’t even start writing! Let the audience feel that you know, you might even tell them. But do not overdo, give them space to think, to get it their own way. When there is only one lane to get the result, passage will be blocked soon.

  • Check, check and double-check. Your text should not contain errors. Always use an editor if available, otherwise put the text aside, do something else, pick it up again and try to edit it yourself. Let one or more members of your audience read it, check if they get your message, rewrite the passages that are not clear and start checking again. You do not want your message to contain as many errors ales the software you use! That makes sense to you, doesn’t it?!

Then let us create our software the same way:

  • Know our audience,
  • speak their language,
  • know what they want to achieve,
  • be complete,
  • be an expert on the subject,
  • deliver an almost errorless product…

And give them the tool they WANT to use!


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