Business Writing Tip #13 – Know who it’s for

Know who your audience is and write for it.

Knowing who you are writing for goes hand-in-hand with identifying your reasons for writing. Keep who and why in mind and you will be able to engage your reader and keep them reading.

This is a principle that holds true for any written communication, whether it’s a business letter, report, sales letter or advertisement. Think about what you know about the recipient – their position in the company, their age, their gender, their technical know-how. Then use the information when you write.

Knowing who you are writing for will help you:

  • Choose the appropriate vocabulary – you will know if they understand your business’s jargon or not. If not, don’t use it
  • To avoid words that put up barriers and use those that are clear and simple to understand – ‘make unclear’ not ‘obfuscate’, ‘the item I mentioned in the previous paragraph’ not the ‘aforementioned’
  •  Adopt the right tone – you can be familiar with your coworkers, but if you’re writing to a board member or a client, you may want to be more formal. ‘Good morning’ rather than ‘hi’

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