Making a good first impression is essential when meeting clients for the first time. Making this impression often translates into practicing presentations in advance, preparing lists of questions, researching the client’s competition, and reviewing the client’s own internally-generated materials. In addition, however, there are other important actions we all take on a more personal level: we get haircuts; we dress up a notch or two above our usual jeans and t-shirt attire; we smile and engage in friendly conversation; and we extend firm handshakes to those we meet. These two lists represent substance and style, if you will. Neither is effective alone.
When you write, the same factors are in play. And, you won’t make a good first impression through your writing if you don’t pay attention to both. Yes, your writing should convey substantive information. But, if you don’t pay attention to how that information is presented, you risk it not being considered thoughtfully or read at all.
In this post I concentrate on the “style” aspect of writing -- the “dressing up” of your documentation for maximum effect. Below I suggest some tips for making a good impression with your writing that are easy to adopt.