The goal of written communication is the same as face-to-face or telephone communications: to focus on your audience. Specifically in written communications, your goal is to produce reader-centered writing. Remember: It's not all about you. It's all about your audience.

Many Web sites offer business letter template downloads, and most people have little trouble with the actual format of a business letter. What they struggle with is the content. If you take a few moments to focus on the following points before you write, you'll be glad you did.

  1. Decide on the true purpose of the written communication:
    • Why are you writing?
    • Why is the reader receiving the letter, e-mail, or memo?
    • What specific action do you want the reader to take?
  2. Identify your audience:
    • Who should be on the distribution list?
    • What is the reader's role in responding to the communication?
    • What is the reader's likely reaction to the communication?
    • How do you want the reader to react?
    • Why should the reader even bother to read this?
    • How well does the reader know the subject?
  3. Identify your bottom line:
    • What is the single most important point of the communication?
    • If the reader were to forget everything else, what one key point do you want them to remember?
  4. Identify your strategy:
    • Are you clear about deadlines and actions requested?
    • What is the best method of transmission -- letter, memo, or e-mail?
    • Should you be writing this communication now, or are you too late, or too early?
    • Is someone else communicating the same information and if so, should you check with that person first?

This four-point checklist also serves as a good way to evaluate memos and letters you have already written to see if they meet all the criteria for effective business communications.

Click here to enroll in a free, online course about this topic.

This article is sponsored by an online learning center for small businesses. Learn how to better manage and grow your business with free, online courses available at your convenience. Click here to view a complete list of courses.

SoYouWanna know more? Check out our full-length article SYW How to Create a List to Filter & Analyze Data