How to Write so Employees Actually Give a $%&!

Remember that time you tried to write that employee newsletter you hoped everyone would read?

And your developers said ”We’re too busy playing with code” and your sales team griped “We’re too busy pretending to make calls,” and your IT department whined “Without us, the company would fall apart, so I don’t have time to read your fluff.”What they are really saying is “Company Newsletters?!?! Ain’t nobody got time for that!”

Does your writing stand out from the herd?

Does your writing stand out from the herd?

Yeah, that sucked. Another failed attempt at communicating.

It didn’t start out that way though did it?

You had lots of content and it was all relevant to the audience. You were even trying to keep up with cool kids by even getting one of those fancy social intranets—one that you were guaranteed engagement on. Only it didn’t happen.

Why? Because it’s not the stories, it’s not the employees, and it’s not the technology. Sadly, it’s your writing.

You have defaulted to using lame corporate lingo to talk to real human beings.

No I am not recommending you get grammar advice from Urban Dictionary, nor am I suggesting that you speak only in acronyms (WTF IMHO YOLO).  But whether your colleagues are baristas or doctors, they are all human. They are also probably too busy to invest any time into reading content that is confusing, overly verbose, or not entertaining.

The goal is to get read; not to win a literary prize. And as long as your newsletters get read you will be more popular than you were on your first day at work.

Like Einstein said “If you can’t explain it to a 6-year-old, you don’t understand it yourself.”

If you don’t know where to start or still don’t have a clue what I am talking about, here are six generic company announcements, and suggestions for how to transform them into readable nuggets.

  1. Instead of “Here are the latest sales figures,” try “Here’s why you get a pay cheque”
  2. Instead of “Staff photos next Thursday,” try “Your selfie sucked. We’re gonna fix that.”
  3. Instead of “Office Xmas Party, Wednesday Dec 14th,” try “Prepare to call in sick Thursday the 15th
  4. Instead of “Staff profile: VP of Stuff John Doe,” try “Yikes! Bet you didn’t know THIS about John!”
  5. Instead of “New Case Study,” try “See? Marketing DOES do something! *See case study for proof”
  6. Instead of “Donate to Jake’s Movember cause,” try “Jake’s getting uglier by the day. Ignoring him isn’t going to make him go away—money will!”

For those of you who are grammar traditionalists, let me assure you I am too. Or at least that’s where I focused all my education. I am immensely passionate about communication BUT, language, like technology, has changed. And if the technology that we choose to communicate with evolves, doesn’t it only make sense that our language does too?

Guest blog by Kelly Batke of Jostle.  “Unleash the Power of Your Company Culture with Jostle’s Turnkey Intranet Software” 

(And seriously, you do need to check this out – it’s a great platform that can help your employees connect and communicate not only more effectively, but in a more fun way as well!  – Michael Kerr, President, Humor at Work)

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