Poorly Written Communications

Poorly Written Communications Cost American Companies $400 Billion Per Year

How much is your company losing?

Writing is one of the primary ways business gets done. Good business decisions depend on clear communication. So when communications are done well, business gets done well. But when it’s not done well, it creates a host of problems.

Industry writing expert Josh Bernhoff writes:

“Think about it.
You start your day wading through first-draft emails from colleagues who fail to come to the point. You consume reports that don’t make clear what’s happening or what your management should do about it. The websites, marketing materials, and press releases from your suppliers are filled with jargon and meaningless superlatives.”

How many times have you had to read an email more than once just to figure out what the sender was saying or what the point was? But it’s not just emails that are the culprit. There are a tremendous amount of written materials that businesses continually produce in including reports, marketing material, sales brochures, internal memos, sales proposals and more.

Unclear communication, in any form, results in confusion, lost opportunity, and reduction in status. This directly impacts sales, brand reputation, innovation, and employee productivity.  

How Well Can Your Employees Write?

Kara Blackburn, a senior lecturer in managerial communication at the MIT Sloan School of Management said, “You can have all the great ideas in the world and if you can’t communicate, nobody will hear them.”

infographic waste time

According to a study of over 500 business employees, 81% agreed with the statement: “Poorly written material wastes a lot of my time.”

Most people find that the things they read at work are too long, poorly organized and unclear. Sound about right? So how do we go about fixing the problem?

There are two main solutions:

  1. Get schools to produce better graduates or 
  2. Offer training to your employees.

According to surveys done by Education Week, “Many educators argue that the primary purpose of schooling isn’t to create a jobs pipeline….” Since businesses can’t directly dictate what schools will or won’t do (maybe they should), what’s left is what a business can control: who they hire and what training they provide.

Tips for Writing Better

Carolyn O’Hara, Managing Editor of The Week, gives sound advice:

  1. Think before you write: don’t start writing on the spark of an idea. Talk it through in your own mind before words flow on paper.
  2. Be direct: make your point right up front. It will guide everything after. I think of this as a thesis statement to be proved or disproved.
  3. Cut the fat: avoid the unnecessary and build up the necessary but not with more words. Do it with more emphasis…there is a difference.
  4. Avoid jargon and $10 words: I used to believe I was paid by high-sounding words. I know now it is about being convincing and not trying to impress.
  5. Read what you write: I recommend reading it out loud. I am often embarrassed when I hear the words. Equally so, I am happy when they are edited for greater impact.

Call to Action — Improve Your Company’s Communication

The bullet items above are just a few of the ways that employees can improve their writing.

But to really increase their writing effectiveness — leading to more productivity and less confusion both internally and with customers — you should consider providing a more in-depth program that takes them through all of the key aspects better business writing.

The Business Writing learning path from Ability Platform starts with the “Proposals” an introduction video perfect for those who write internal proposals or request proposals from vendors.

This series of 25 lessons are easy to consume and fit into any busy schedule. While the video lessons can be taken in any order, they are organized into five categories, offering a logical way to consume the training.

The Business Writing Learning Path consists of theses categories:

  1. Writing Basics
  2. Writing Clearly 
  3. Business Writing
  4. Proofreading
  5. Punctuation

Each of the 25 video lessons averages five minutes and covers a specific skill. This allows employees to quickly improve their writing abilities or refresh their skills before writing that next report, proposal or other written communication.

Remember, our mission is for you and your employees to become a top performer in your industry. We encourage your feedback, so please send us an email or call us at (800) 868-8039.

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