5 questions to ask before you write anything

Your answers will keep your writing focused, save your reader time, and make your boss happy.

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Want to give your reader the most knowledge in the least amount of time? Ask yourself these five questions before you put finger to keyboard.

1. Who is my reader?

Clients. Employees. Investors. They all have different needs and levels of knowledge, so you need to know exactly who you’re talking to before you put your fingers on the keyboard.

Writing for different types of readers? Maybe you need to create different versions of your piece for each audience.

2. Who is not my reader?

The biggest mistake non-expert business writers make is this: they write for one of the two readers who don’t matter. These two readers are:

If you really want to spare your reader’s time, learn the difference between what you or your stakeholder wants to say and what your reader needs to hear.

That update to employees about what some senior executive has been up to for the past quarter? That email to customers that announces the “exciting” news that the company just won an award? They may make you or your stakeholder feel warm and fuzzy, but no one else cares.

Ditch anything you know is of no use to your reader.

What is useful to your reader? That leads us to the next question.

3. What do I want my reader to do?

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