Make it easy for readers to find and understand messages

Running a business is a complex challenge. Whatever the size of organisation, many processes need to run smoothly, while a number of statutory bodies require tax, accounting, health and safety and many more regulations to be observed.

How do you get your people to know this and recognise the importance of compliance?

Many organisations create manuals and intranets outlining important procedures, but do people read them?

Making information accessible is important if employees are to use materials in the course of their work. People need to know they can find the information they need fast.

Easy-to-use indexes and navigation

Readers will find a manual more useful if it is structured so that they can find what they need fast in contents or index pages or flick through the main body and see what they want in a heading.

An easy-to-navigate intranet or web site will also be more useful if viewers can find what they’re looking for fast.

Clear explanations

Once a reader has found the information they want, they have to be able to understand it. People tend to consult reference material when they don’t understand something and need an explanation. To provide what they want, manuals and web sites need to provide clear explanations without using jargon and without waffle.

If people can’t find what they’re looking for once or twice, they probably won’t bother trying a third time. And if they can’t understand explanations when they do find the right section, they’ll think the material is a waste of their time.

More importantly, if staff cannot understand important processes or regulations, what impact will it have on your business? Could it reduce productivity or, worse, prevent the business from meeting legal requirements?

Useful resources improve business

If you are going to the expense of creating reference material for employees, you’ll get the best value if they find it easy to use and it helps them do their jobs. It’ll also help maintain productivity and ensure your business meets any legal obligations.

Confusion down, productivity up with clear communication

Once again, a news item focuses on how gobbledegook used by local government confuses people or, at worst, conceals the truth. Yet it’s not only councils that use jargon: businesses are often just as guilty.

It can be easy, when sitting in a room with colleagues or industry peers, to throw jargon and acronyms around. It saves time and can make us look good; it can also alienate people, make us look arrogant and block progress when others haven’t a clue what we mean.

It doesn’t take much to communicate clearly, using plain English instead of jargon, but the difference can be significant. If we rattle off an email that no one can understand, readers will either ignore it because they don’t know what we’re on about and don’t want to look stupid themselves or respond by seeking clarification from us. So that’s two unnecessary emails we’ll have generated. Confusion up, productivity down.

Acronyms and abbreviations do have their uses. Spelling out or saying ‘methylene diphenyl diisocyanate’ every time does get tedious, so following its first use with the initials MDI (so everyone knows what we’re talking about) can be useful, but inserting them into every document or conversation regardless of the intended audience should be avoided.

The answer, as usual, is in achieving balance through ensuring that our audience understands any technical or specialist terms we use. That’s how to keep both understanding and productivity up.

TAM Restart uses fair play to turn around businesses hit by the credit crunch

The five-day Restart package from UK-based TAM™ helps struggling businesses to take fast action that can increase productivity by up to 35% 

As many companies feel the credit crunch hitting them unfairly, TAM plc has launched its concentrated Restart programme to enable businesses running out of time or money to fight back using fair play.

Read the full Restart press release written for TAM.

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