I recently delivered a workshop on Strategic Writing to a group of FM professionals. It’s the same workshop I’ve given for other Property Management and Facility Management organizations who want to elevate their ability to write well, and present a good image and influence others.
Some of the participants had the same concern that others have had related to memo’s or letters. The approach I teach is focused primarily on communicating information and influencing the reader to do what you want, whether it’s agreement, approval or to follow directions. Since the writing has a clear purpose, I teach techniques that support the purpose. Every Facility Management professional needs to know how to communicate effectively to be successful yet this soft skill is often overlooked.
To that point, here is a very relevant quote:
“The only people in the world who can change things are those who can sell ideas” – – Louis Wyse, advertising executive
What I teach is a little different from traditional writing you may have been taught in Business Communications 101 or in high school English. I don’t focus on margin size, how many tabs to indent the title block, the greeting, where to put the return address or arcane grammar rules. What I do, however, is provide specific FM and PM related examples, drawing on my experience and what I’ve seen in buildings, even those managed by well known companies.
The techniques include shorter, tighter writing that is well structured and easy to read and easy to understand. Nobody has time to read long blocks of narrative writing anymore, and if you write them, most of what you say will be glossed over as your reader scans it for information that matters to them.
And that’s the problem. Some participants have said they were concerned the letters and memos didn’t look ‘professional’ or ‘friendly’ because it includes less narrative and more headings, bullet points, tables and other techniques to focus attention on information rather than to entertain. It doesn’t look as ‘soft’ as a page filled with paragraphs of text.
The reality is that times are changing and anyone you write to will appreciate it if you make it easier for them. They simply don’t have the time to read a nice letter anymore. Adding a short greeting at the top will alleviate some of the concerns as well, but then you need to quickly get down to business and communicate your message.
Excellent communication is one of the most important business tools you can have, since so much of what you do is selling, whether it’s policy and procedures, letters to occupants, tenants or landlords, your strategic plans or even business cases.