We are in a day in age, no matter what our occupation is, where written communication is important. Emails and text messages continue to replace phone calls and people constantly have their devices in front of them.
As an MSL, you may routinely use written communication to schedule KOL appointments, coordinate meetings with internal colleagues, or pitch an idea to your team. If career development is on your mind, there’s a likelihood that you’re also writing thank you letters after interviews, asking for involvement in special projects, or expressing interest in a promotion opportunity that has arisen.
We can easily get caught up in being too worried about the level of professionalism our writing exudes (I’m guilty of this right this minute). But if you’re taking the time to write to someone outside of routine correspondence, your goals can often be condensed into two parts: a) catch your audience’s attention and b) initiate an action. So, how can we accomplish these goals by not being too pushy, i.e. “salesy”? Let’s examine.
1. Overload your first sentence
We need to remember not to take our reader’s attention span for granted, but we can usually give them enough credit to read our first sentence. Whatever you NEED your reader to see, make sure it’s in this line. This way their attention is caught early and they’re more compelled to read the rest of what you have to say.
2. Keep it brief
More than ever, it’s difficult to keep someone’s attention. People are busy. There are more distractions than ever. There isn’t even a guarantee that your reader will finish your email before they move to the next one! Make your point quickly. You can do this by eliminating intensifiers (e.g. “very,” “really,” “extremely”) — they don’t add anything to your material.
3. Use verbs
We’re not writing a novel, therefore we don’t need to hit our reader with descriptors. Eliminate unnecessary adjectives and insert verbs. Verbs drive the sentence. Verbs catch peoples’ attention. Verbs help initiate action. Verbs help show that you’re ready to DO something and the time they’re giving you won’t be spent in vain.
4. Don’t be afraid to be persuasive
The reality is oftentimes our written communication in a business setting has an underlying need for persuasiveness.
It doesn’t matter how selfless you are, sometimes it behooves you to be a little persuasive! There is plenty of debate about this topic, but there are certain words that persuade more than others. A few of the most agreed upon persuasive words are:
-You: everyone likes to hear about themselves
-Because: as modest of a word as this is, it turns out “because” helps your reader understand your point of view
-New: it’s a word that hints at innovation and fresh ideas, which are always hot commodities in business (and science!)
-Now/Instantly: all of us humans love instant gratification, so, naturally, these words catch our attention
5. Don’t be passive
This doesn’t mean to be aggressive, but don’t devalue your message by being too passive. Don’t apologize for “bothering” someone with an email. Don’t use words and phrases like “just,” “maybe,” or “I think.” Your message needs to be certain and it needs to be not minimalized. Deliver it with confidence!
Questions or comments? Email me at email@example.com.
Author: Lawrence Beck, CPC