Today’s busy readers are skimmers, drowning in paperwork and are impatient. Therefore, when they glance at one of your documents either in hard copy or on a screen, what do they want to know right away?
They want to know “What’s in it for me?” They mentally ask themselves “Why do I need to read this document?” “Why should I take time out of my busy day to read it?” “Can I get away with skimming it?” “Can I put it aside for later, ignore it entirely or delete it?”
Therefore, when you start any document begin with the main message. Don’t waste a reader’s time with fill words or background details in the first paragraph.
Don’t start a report with “The purpose of this report is to clarify/describe/explain…”?Get rid of the fluff: “This report clarifies/describes/explains…”
In an email, don’t start with background: “Three weeks ago, I met with you to discuss the new production line. You asked me to…” ?Get rid of the bedtime story: “Here are the answers to your questions regarding the new production line.”
In a letter, try to avoid starting with the word “I” : I want to take this opportunity to thank you for …” Put the focus on the reader, not the writer: “Thank you for …”