Sunday, April 17, 2005

Little Words Get Big Results

A tip for professionals: When writing any letter, email, or copy for an article, assume everyone that will read your words is in the 6th grade.

I recently read a letter written by a doctor to the parents of a child the doctor was treating that sent everyone scrambling for dictionaries and medical terminology books. The letter was heavily laden with exactly precise medical terms and was written in 'third person'. The parents eventually gave up and called the doctor to figure out what he had written.

In another recent example of silly writing; A first year attorney had drafted a letter to a client of the firm and made the mistake off using too much plain English (at least according to the partner that reviewed the letter prior t sending it out). The partner was quite brisk in explaining that attorney letters need to look 'legal' and instructed the attorney to include case references, legal terms, etc. The next week the partner received a phone call from the client who wondered if there was anyone that might have time to explain what the letter meant.

It's a wonderful truth about people (me included) and what we read. We like little words... We all understand little words in simple sentences. Remember, it is more important that people understand what you have to say than how you sound when you say it.

I know I've written about this before, but it keeps coming up and so I think a reminder can never hurt.