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How to Develop Clarity in Your Writing

How many times have you gotten an email, letter or memo and it took until you had read the entire thing before you even BEGAN to understand what was wanted or needed by you, the reader?

Probably more often than you would like!

If your reader has to read ANY PART of your email or letter a second time, you have not done your job communicating.

So let me give you some quick tips on how to shorten your communication and INCREASE your response from the reader. I will then follow up with a concrete example so you can see these steps put to use.

STEP ONE:

FEED YOUR BRAIN REWRITE:

If your child has food allergies or dietary restrictions, please read this carefully and fill out the form on back and return to your child’s teacher by March 31st, Thursday.

For all other parents, please read this so you know what we are doing for your child during MCA testing days.

WHAT IT DOES: This sets up immediately for all parents who should take action, what action should be taken, and HOW to read this memo. You have to manage your audiences’ energy and focus.

STEP TWO:

“Feed Your Brain” is designed to provide your child with a healthy snack for Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCA) testing days. We realize how much energy can be burned while a child is concentrating on the test and the importance that each child is well fed so they can better concentrate so they can reach their full potential on the test.

Because of the importance of this we have arranged for a special snack for all third graders before the tests begin. These snacks will be given out on April 26, 27 and May 3, 4 at all four elementary schools- Cedar Ridge, Eden Lake, Forest Hills, and Prairie View.

On the back of this letter you will find a sample snack menu as well as the parent form to fill out if your child has food allergies or dietary restrictions.

WHAT IT DOES: This tells the parents WHY the school believes this is important, when it will be done and it reiterates who should fill out the form and why.

STEP THREE:

Sign the letter.

STEP FOUR:

PS.

This community-wide project is conducted by the Eden Prairie Council for Gifted and Talented (EPCGT) with funding and volunteers coming from a variety of sources. Each elementary school PTO has provided some funding along with Eden Prairie’s Noon Rotary Club and EPCGT. Super Value is providing much for the food and supplies for this program at cost, which significantly reduces expenses. As you can see, we are continuing to work on increasing your child’s educational experience while maintaining costs.

WHAT THIS DOES: PS is one of the more read pieces of a letter. Therefore, putting this information about who is sponsoring this project gives it more power and influence as a PS.

STEP FIVE:

On Back

SAMPLE MENUS:

Testing Day Food Item Protein Sugar Carbs

4/26, 5/3 8 oz Skim Milk 8 grams 12 grams 13 grams Or

8 oz water 0 grams 0 grams 0 grams

4 oz Yogurt 4 grams 19 grams 23 grams

1 graham cracker 1 gram 4 grams 12 grams

TOTAL 13 grams 34 grams 48 grams

(26% Rcmd (16% Rcmd

Daily Intake Daily Intake

4/27, 5/4 8 oz Skim Milk 8 grams 12 grams 13 grams

Or

8 oz water 0 grams 0 grams 0 grams

2 mini bagels 5 grams 4 grams 28 grams

1 oz cream cheese 2 grams 1 gram 1 gram

TOTAL 15 grams 17grams 42 grams

(30% Rcmd (14% Rcmd

Daily Intake Daily Intake

Please fill out and return to your child’s classroom teacher ONLY if your child has food allergies or dietary restrictions.

Child’s Name__________________________________________________

Child’s Teacher & School_________________________________________

Parent’s Name__________________________________________________

Parent’s Phone Number_____________________Email_________________

Please explain your child’s food allergy or dietary restrictions: WHAT THIS DOES: This reiterates to the parents for a THIRD time who should fill out this form and what to do with the form.

You can see how this rewrite makes it easy for people to understand what they are to do, why they are to do it, and what effect it will have.

The first letter took me several times of reading it to understand what my role was, what I was suppose to do, and what the purpose of the letter was. I wasn’t sure if they were asking for more money since they mentioned the 75 cents and I wasn’t sure if I was suppose to fill out the form if I wanted my child to have the snack or if I was only to fill out the form if my child had food allergies.

You can see how with the rewrite it is clear as to what you are suppose to do and why. We have removed the guesswork by keeping the memo to focus on ONE goal- to get the parents with children of food allergies and dietary restrictions to fill out the form. If parents of children WITHOUT food allergies read the memo great, but if they don’t it won’t matter.

But if parents with children with food allergies don’t read the letter we could have grave consequences. Therefore, that is my target audience I want to reach.

You can also see how the rewrite not only eliminates confusion, but it streamlines our office as we now know we will ONLY get forms back from parents with children who have special food needs. With the first memo we could end up with a flood of forms filled out and we would have to waste man hours weeding through them, contacting parents, and clarifying what needs there are.


As the leading Outcome Strategist, Anne Warfield shows people how to say the right thing at the right time every time.  The revolutionary Outcome Focus® Approach shows how to build a candid corporate culture of communication that allows you to lead, present and negotiate transformationally rather than transactionally. When applying Outcome Thinking® our client’s results include sales cycles reducing by 75%, turnover reducing by 30%, silos evaporating, and a 25% savings of time by executives.  Find out how you can maximize your corporate culture for greater productivity and results!  Contact us at 888-imp-9421, visit  www.impressionmanagement.com,  or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .