Effective business communicators know that a brisk, bulleted memo is often more effective than a multi-page document, that an executive summary is at least as important as a full report, and that a PowerPoint deck driven by a few key images and bullets works a lot better than a deck that contains a word-for-word transcript of your presentation. We all know that less is more.
Yet even those who have mastered the art of brevity in traditional business communication may have a tough time mastering online communication. Whether it’s email, chat, or a social network, word count isn’t just a matter of style—it’s often a technical requirement. Add to that the expectation that your online voice should sound conversational, engaging, or even funny, and communicating online may be the biggest (and certainly most frequently encountered) writing challenge that we face in business today. Here are some guidelines that can help make those messages productive and satisfying—rather than a liability.
Relax. The biggest difference between online writing and traditional business communications is that most online interaction is a lot less formal—especially social network updates and text messages.