Consider Whom You’re Writing For

Often in business-related communications, we see companies focus too much on themselves instead of their audience. Long sentences and big words can hinder comprehension.

Put the focus back on your audience by asking these questions:

What is the readership level of your audience?

Consider that the average American reads at an eighth-grade level. If you are writing materials for the general public, aim for that level. Use shorter sentences and words with fewer syllables. Adjust your language accordingly if your audience is narrower and better educated.

Two basic readability measures are the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level and Flesch Reading Ease scale. To determine these ratings in Microsoft Word, click Tools, Options, Spelling & Grammar, and check the box for “Show readability statistics.” Then whenever you spell check a document, Word will display its Grade Level and Reading Ease score.

How much time do you expect them to spend reading your piece?

Writing expert Ann Wylie recommends considering Average Reading Time (ART) when composing text. According to Roy Peter Clark, senior scholar at The Poynter Institute, the average adult can read 200 words per minute. If you want readers to spend two minutes reading your piece, aim for 400 words. Three minutes? Shoot for 600 words. You get the idea. Keep in mind they’ll only continue reading if you’ve kept their attention.

What do you want your readers to do?

Every informative or persuasive piece of writing should include a call to action. It could be as simple as making a call, looking up a website or emailing the author.

By the way, this article checks in at 311 words. It should take less than two minutes to read. Its Grade Level is 8.0. Its Reading Ease score is 57.7 out of 100.

To discover how S&A Cherokee can help with your communications needs, contact us for a free consultation at (919) 674-6020.

Author: Glenn Gillen, APR
Glenn Gillen is our Senior Account Manager.

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