When was the last time you did a thorough inventory of your business risks?

Did it include a communications audit? Yes, you read that correctly. Do you know how effectively your employees, from the top down, write and present information?

It is worth finding out because bad writing could be eating into your company’s profits and irritating your customers. A recent Harvard Business Review poll found that 81 per cent of businesspeople say poorly written emails, letters and reports are wasting their time.

Don’t write off good writing

Bad business writing, internally and externally, is really bad for business. Managers and staff who don’t communicate clearly are wasting company time and money. A poorly written or structured email may lead to hundreds of customer emails, calls or complaints creating an unnecessary drain on staff resources.

In addition, managers who fail to pass on important strategic messages from their managers or the Board can slow down organisational change and lead to missed targets or poor metrics.

“Strong communicators get their message across quickly and inspire others to act,” says

Clear Eye CEO Margaret E. Ward. Persuasive and well-crafted reports and presentations convince others to make important decisions. Despite this, some businesses think writing and public speaking are “soft skills” that are good to have, not must-haves.

If you fail to write with your audience and purpose in mind, you’ll never get your message across. Too many organisations write to impress – using convoluted, jargon-filled writing – instead of writing to communicate clearly.

“Often, we find that most people in the company, from the management right down to entry-level, are writing documents and emails that fail to convey anything at all. When that happens, it adds up to a big drain on productivity,” says Ward.

Bad writing dilutes leadership

Poorly written communication can also dilute leadership.

“Clear leadership, expressed in writing, creates alignment and boosts productivity,” writes Josh Bernoff, author of Writing Without Bullshit: Boost Your Career by Saying What You Mean.

He says managers must set an example by saying precisely what they want, clearly, in the subject line of an email. The first two sentences should contain the essence of what they are trying to communicate.

“The workers reading it will just skip to the key facts anyway, so lose the filler and don’t waste their time,” Bernoff writes.

Fuzzy writing leads to fuzzy thinking

Poorly organised writing also reveals a gap in thinking.

If you write well-constructed, active sentences – using a ‘who-does-what’ structure – your message will be clear, and the people reading it will know exactly what they need to do.

On the other hand, if you write long-winded, inexact sentences you will not only confuse people but also you will make them suspicious.

Clarity boosts trust

“If you say what you mean, straight-up, people will trust you. You will soon gain a reputation for clear-thinking and clear action,” says Ward.

“We have seen that time and again at Clear Eye. When the message is clear, the response rate increases, businesses runs more efficiently and that is definitely good news for the bottom line.”

If you’re having difficulty developing a clear, jargon-free message, Clear Eye can help. We are a global brand communications agency based in Dublin and we love clarity. To find out more, contact Margaret at margaret@cleareye.ie