Focus on the reader. You can’t be effective unless you do.

Most people say 'Oh I do that'. But they don't.

 

They have their readers in the back of their minds, but they are much more focused on what they want to say. That's the easy bit. Turning what we want to say into reader-focused writing is a demanding discipline. It governs what we include in your email, letter or report and every, word, sentence and paragraph.

Ask yourself some vital questions as you prepare.

What do your readers want to know? What would be most useful for them? Is this word, sentence or idea useful for my readers? How much do they know already? What’s their technical knowledge? How do they feel about you or your organisation? Would they understand this idea or this word? Anything that keeps you focused on them.

The world’s top communicators are obsessed with their audience’s perspective.

It's not just the golden rule of writing. Focus on the audience is the same idea with wider application. It’s the starting point for engaging an audience in a presentation, negotiating, selling, your next media interview or a conversation with a colleague.

Unless you’re just talking to yourself, you need the golden rule.