You’ve thought up an innovative idea and now you want to persuade others to adopt it. Here are two ideas that have worked for me.
First, when writing e-mails,
letters, articles, and news releases, practice the strategy the military calls
“Bottom Line Up Front.” Put your most important point in the first sentence or
at least the first paragraph.
Let’s say you believe your organization can save save money and reduce its carbon footprint by eliminating needless printing.
Here are two examples of the
first sentences of an e-mail to the senior manager whose support you want to enlist.
We are not only ordering more and more printed materials that stack up in our warehouse, we are also unnecessarily printing hard copies which increase our paper, electricity, and toner costs.
(The e-mail then goes on for a
paragraph or more discussing why this is a bad thing before it gets to the
I have two ideas that will save us thousands of dollars over the course of the next fiscal year. First, by moving to print-on-demand instead of ordering large stocks of pamphlets for our warehouse we can save thousands of dollars. Many of these pamphlets go unused for months and some are outdated before they are used. Companies that send us printed materials can now have them to us within five business days of ordering, something they could not do a decade ago when we began this practice.
Second, many of our staff are printing e-mails rather than archiving them. By training our staff in how to archive e-mails instead of printing we can reduce our paper, toner, and electricity costs.
(Then the e-mail goes on to provide addtional documentation and to list the benefits.)
This senior manager receive dozens of e-mails a day, and may be
receiving these in-between flights on her cell phone. She won’t have a long
If you want people to
consistently read your e-mails, avoid writing those that have a vertical scroll
bar. Just as one study showed that only 30% of people open attachments,
many busy people don’t scroll down. (This applies to computers, not smart
Second, if you want your writing to be more persuasive, read the
To Stick, by Chip Heath and Dan Heath and follow their
SUCCESs is an acronym for:
Simple, Unexpected, Concrete,
Credible, and Stories. If you write FAQ’s,
articles, white papers, letters, news releases, e-mails, etc., this book’s for
you. It will heavily influence my internal communications as I go forward with
year one of my organization’s CRM Strategic Plan.
If you practice BLUF and
the principles laid out in Made To Stick, then you should find that it easier to
communicate your ideas to others.
Manager-Tools.com (introduced me to the
concept of BLUF and no vertical scroll bars)
To Effective Military Writing (Yes, the military may be full of book-length acronyms, but BLUF is a requirement in the Marines and other branches.)