The letter reader who’s your biggest nightmare

If you’re a sloppy letter writer, then my friend’s old employer is your biggest nightmare. But clean up your writing, and you can win over even this tough customer.

The impatient reader

“How do you go through your mail so quickly?” she asked after watching him flip through letters one after another without pausing.

His reply? “If it’s not in the first sentence, I don’t read it.” People who wrote flowery introductions to their letters had no hope of communicating their messages to this impatient reader.

Your solution

You can reach impatient readers by getting to your point in your first sentence. Tell your readers what you want – and why it should matter to them. For example, “Here’s a review of our recent meeting with a checklist of the actions you must take, so I can implement your plan.” Save the niceties for the end of your letter.

Some financial advisors think it’s rude to write a letter that doesn’t “make nice” for the entire paragraph. Indeed, some of your readers may prefer a leisurely, chatty introduction.

However, a letter that immediately gets to the point is kinder to your readers. It relieves them of the burden of searching through your letter to figure out what you want. You’ll benefit, too. More readers will do what you want when you’re clear up front.

Take a second look at your most recent letter. Is it direct enough?