The Point Comes First

Good business communications get to the point quickly. This idea is fundamental to the field, but that doesn’t mean that it’s commonly practiced. Cases in point: All the websites that begin with “Welcome to our website” and all the corporate announcements that begin, “We are pleased to announce. . . .”

So suppose a company’s site starts off with “Welcome to Acme Industries.” Why is that a problem? Because it doesn’t say anything that would interest a site visitor. A visitor wants answers to questions: What can Acme Industries do for me? What does the company do anyway? How is it different?

Hopefully, the website copy will get around to addressing these questions at some point, but the visitor will have to do some work to get there. Polite phrases like "Welcome" can be unwelcoming in the end.

As for “We are pleased to announce. . . ,” notice how the sentence begins with “we” being “pleased.” In effect, the immediate focus is on the company and its happy feelings—not on the customer or potential client. Again, the announcement most likely will get to the point eventually, but what’s the hold-up?

It might be because getting to the point is not intuitive. People often feel around for their point as they talk or write. There’s nothing wrong with that. It takes time and effort to figure out a central message for any type of communication. Still it’s best, especially in writing, to tackle that process behind the scenes first.


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