I have read good reports and poorly-written reports, good letters and poorly-written letters. Often the differences between them have nothing at all to do with the educational level of the writer or the subject matter. There are, however, three mistakes that individuals make repeatedly when they are preparing written work:
1. The writer tries to sound sophisticated - Many words and terms are specific to a certain field of work or culture. When one person writes using only the phrases that they would use as a professional or expert, many other people lose comprehension in their reading. There is an expression that is known as the acronym "KISS" (keep it simple stupid). Imagine that you are writing to someone who does not have a large vocabulary or knowledge about a specific field. Use language that is easily understood and word sentences so they are short and clear.
2. Some of the important details are missing - No matter what your report or letter is about, you are probably wise to err on the side of caution when it comes to explanation. Tell a story in summary form so that the person who is reading can fully understand the whole situation without having to refer to other documents, make assumptions or end the process without understanding the point of your writing.
3. There is no clear call to action - There is always a reason why someone will be writing a report or letter. Usually, there is at least one thing that the writing is hoping to accomplish as a result of their writing. It is usually wise to lay out the story behind the story - your motivation for writing and the expectations that you have for the future. Please be very clear about what you want to occur as a result of the document that you have created. It is best to put those things at the end of the report or work so that the person who is reading has them in mind once they have finished reading.
It is very important that you do not make any assumptions about the individuals who will read what you have written. This will require your desire and practice regarding the way that you do the writing. If you are aware of the three mistakes that people make, it will be easier for you to craft clear message that has a better chance of obtaining understanding and an accurate response.
Dr. Linda Hancock, the author of “Life is An Adventure…every step of the way” and “Open for Business Success” is a Registered Psychologist who has a private practice in Medicine Hat. She can be reached at 403-529-6877 or through email firstname.lastname@example.org