Communication plays a vital role in business. Therefore, all business messages must be carefully planned. In order to communicate successfully and effectively one should follow an appropriate process.
Steps In Planning Effective Business Messages
For effective communication, the following steps are necessary for writing a message.
- Determine the purpose of the message.
- Analyze your receiver.
- Choose the ideas to be included.
- Collect all the facts to support the ideas.
- Outline and organize your message.
Determine The Purpose of The Message
In the process of communication, the first thing is to know your specific objectives. The most important thing is that the sender is well aware of the purpose of sending the message.
If the purpose is not known to the sender, the communication will fail to achieve its desired end.
For instance, one must be aware if the message is about a replacement for such goods. Or is your main purpose to introduce the new product etc?
In addition to the specific purpose. all the messages have a general purpose. i.e. building goodwill. Here the example of a collection letter can be given which on one hand collects overdue amounts; on the other hand, it builds goodwill.
Analyze Your Receiver
Analysing the receiver means seeing the message from the receiver’s point of view: their needs, interests, desires, likings, dislikings and even their cultural environment. The writer should know who the receiver of his message is. The receiver may be an individual or a group of members. He may be a peasant or an educated person. This is not very difficult if the sender is already acquainted with the recipient.
Choose The Ideas To Be Included
With the specific purpose of your message and recipient in mind, your next step should be to choose the ideas for your message. If you want to answer a letter, do underline the important points to discuss and write your ideas in the margin. your choice of ideas rely on the type of message that is communicated.
Collect all the Facts to Support the Ideas
Sometimes business messages do not extract the desired results. This occurs when ideas shown in the message are not aptly. and sufficiently supported by facts and figures. When the writer decides on ideas that he should include in the message. He must analyze if it is specific data to make his viewpoint fully understandable for the reader.
He should not deviate from the policies and procedures of the company he represents. If required, the writer may enclose a brochure, table, picture or product sample for ready reference.
Outline and Organize Your Message
Finally, it is to organize and outline data before preparing the final draft. Inconsistency in writing reflects a disorganized mind. Finally, it fails to drive the expected results. A good message must present a clear, unbroken sequence of ideas.
Outlining the message before making it final for dispatch will save it from getting confusing and unclear, and thus bring to the writer the desired response.
Basic Organization Plans
Select a proper opening for the message and the reader
When the writer of the message selects his organizational plan, he should figure out the purpose and nature of the message he wants to communicate. At the same time he should ask himself the question, How will the reader react to the ideas of the message?
The reader’s reaction relys to some extent on his attitude, and to a large extent, on a conveyed message and the approach of the writer. However, there are four basic Organizational plans for writing letters or memos:
- Direct / Deductive Approach
- Indirect/Inductive Approach
These plans are implemented under two approaches i.e. the Direct Approach and the Indirect Approach. For Direct-Request and Good-News Plans, Direct Approach is used whereas for Bad-News and Persuasive- Request Plans, the Indirect Approach is applied.
However, these plans should be taken flexibly and not rigidly as these are designed to meet different situations.
Direct / Deductive Approach
The Direct Approach is also called the Deductive Approach. It is adopted when the reader is expected to be receptive to the message i.e. when the writer thinks that the reader will have a favorable reaction to the message.
In the direct deductive approach, the opening paragraph of the message expresses the main idea or the good news and all essential details are explained in the following paragraph or paragraphs. The message is finally closed with an appropriate friendly note. The following scheme is adopted to develop messages carrying direct requests or good news.
- Statement of the main idea or the good news.
- Explanation of the main idea.
- Courteous, friendly close.
Indirect / Inductive Approach
The Indirect Approach is also called Inductive Approach. It is used when the reader is expected to resist to the message i.e. when the writer thinks that the reader may probably react unfavourably or negatively to the request or information communicated to him.
Begin your message with a pleasant and neutral statement expressing your consideration for the receiver. This is called ‘buffer’. After that explain the reasons supporting the negative decision. It would be followed by the decision itself. In the end, give a friendly note and courteously close the message.
One way to organize a persuasive message is the AIDA plan, which is of four stages.
- Attract Attention
- Create Interest
- Stimulate Desire
- Stimulate Action.
Beginnings and Endings of Messages
Beginnings and endings of business messages are of great importance in written communication. The opening of a letter should be attractive enough to force the reader to go through its entire contents. Similarly, the closing paragraph of a letter should be written in such a way that even if the letter fails to get business, it must not fail to create goodwill.
The opening paragraph of a written message determines whether the reader continues reading, puts the message aside, or discards it. It is, therefore, imperative for the writer that makes it attractive enough to persuade the reader to go through the message with sufficient interest and enthusiasm. The following suggestions can be helpful in this context:
Choose an appropriate opening for the message and the reader
The writer may begin with,
- The main idea or goods news for direct-request, neutral and
- good-news messages.
- A buffer for bad-news messages.
- Attention-getting statements —- for persuasive requests.
Be considerate and courteous:
- Mention the reader’s courteous role
- Focus on the positives.
- Use courteous, pleasant expressions
Create interest in the opening:
- Paragraphs should be relatively short
- Conversational words be used
- Unnecessary repetition be avoided
Ensure the presence of all the principles of a good letter. Closing Paragraph:
To induce the reader to take the desired action, closing paragraphs of business messages should be strong, clear and polite. At the same, time they should leave the reader a message of goodwill. One should keep the following guidelines in mind:
Make the action request clear and complete with five ‘Ws’ and the ‘H’:
- (What and How?) He should clearly state what action he desires and who should do it.
- (Where and How?) He should make taking action easy.
- (When?) He should mention the desirable date of the action.
- (Why?) He should mention readers’ benefits, if possible.
The writer should end the message on a positive, courteous note
- Apologies and negative ideas should not be included in the closing paragraph
- Show a friendly attitude toward the reader.
- Appreciate the reader’s interest.
- Occasionally a personal note is added.
The writer should keep the last paragraph concise and correct
- Irrelevant details should be avoided.
- Short but complete sentences be relatively used.
Composition of The Message
Before the sender sends a message, he should consider carefully the five planning steps and the basic organizational plan he chooses to use. Also, he should keep in mind the guidelines provided to him by the Seven ‘C’ Principles. The Composition of the message involves three stages:
- Editing and Proofreading
The most important thing while drafting a message is to have a clear idea of the information to be communicated. It is advisable for the writer to draw in advance an outline of the message for his guidance. He should remember that different people have different styles of writing.
He should, however, arrange his material, so that the reader will understand easily. While writing the first draft of the message the writer should let his mind focus on the contents of the main idea. This is necessary to avoid the distraction of the mind.
Revising the message means examining and evaluating the first draft critically. It means adding necessary information if needed and deleting unnecessary ones. It also means making sure that all necessary are expressed adequately and supported with necessary material.
Revision is, in fact, the key to good writing. In order to get the desired response from the reader, the writer should revise his message so as to avoid any distractions. He should carefully go through the following checklist.
- Is the message precise?
- Is the organizational plan effectively employed?
- Are the opening and closing paragraphs appropriate?
- Have the points been supported by adequate material?
- Are all the principles of a good message present in the message?
Editing And Proofreading
Editing and proofreading is the third and final stage in the process of composition. Editing and proofreading is very important as it ensures the conciseness and relevance of a message. To make the message serve its objective, the writer should edit and re-edit all its aspects to the best of his satisfaction.
Finally, he should go for proofreading to know that the document is fully error-free. Sometimes, the writer may have to proofread the message several times to avoid all chances of errors.