clear communicationAt Insignia, a considerable part of my work relies on Internet research – be it during stakeholder mapping work that we do for our clients or in the business development activity. On a daily basis, I visit a myriad of websites which, more often than not, are owned by companies I have never heard of before. Quickly finding out what they do, is therefore essential but often difficult to achieve. Why is that? It’s because in their communication, some websites use jargon or long-winded sentences rather than clear and concise language.

Why clear communication

If you’re not one of the FTSE 100 companies or an internationally-known brand, there is a high chance that people who come across your website will have no prior knowledge of your business. They are also likely to have very limited time to spend on gathering that knowledge. They will want to quickly grasp what your company does and how your products or services could improve their professional or personal lives. You will rarely have more than one – two minutes to impress them. Fail to do so and they will be checking your competitor’s pages within seconds.

What to do

It’s imperative that your website provides the necessary information in a clear and easily digestible way. The “About us” section is key – this is your chance to introduce your business and entice the visitor to learn more. Use an ‘elevator pitch’-like introduction stating what your business is, how you can help and what values you represent.

Below are a few examples that show the good the bad and the ugly of communication, though in a reverse order:

The ugly

We are an organisation where our specialist skills are used to help our business partners achieve their goals.  We provide local market knowledge and expertise that give us all a competitive advantage.  In so doing, we have that pride in responding quickly and imaginatively to challenges and opportunities and in working with our partners in a spirit of openness and co-operation.

The introduction above is wordy yet it fails to convey a precise message. I’m positive that, having read it, you still don’t know what the company does. They talk about ‘achieving goals’ and ‘responding quickly and imaginatively to challenges and opportunities’ but no specific information is being provided. The key is plain language – use words that people are likely to quickly understand; this will ensure that the message isn’t muddled.

The bad

[Company name] technical facilities management maintain, install and manage the systems and services that support the operation of buildings and infrastructure in a wide variety of environments. By listening to the individual needs of the customer, we can offer tailor made solutions.

While the example above does demonstrate what the company’s core business is, it does so in a clumsy and vague manner. Your communication should always rely on impeccable grammar. Failings in grammar, punctuation or spelling are likely to detract from your core message and put the reader off.

The good

We’re the leading operator of restaurants and pubs in the UK, providing the largest choice of eating out experiences through our successful brands and delivering great service, quality and value for money to our customers.

The above example is short yet effective. Having read this you should know what industry the company is in, what services they provide and what their values are. This is what you should aim for when communicating – precision and clarity.

In conclusion

Whenever you’re trying to convey a message always think of the person who’s at the receiving end. Use clear, concise and plain language. Avoid vague and often meaningless sentences or you risk appearing as though you’re deliberately trying to hide something.

This post has been republished with permission.  View the original article here.