Teli your people what you want

Remember in school when you got a paper back with red marks all over it and a comment like this: "Sentences must never begin with and or but. Don't start sentences that way in my class!" Don't you wish the teacher had told you that before you handed in the paper?

The same thing happens when your people write for you— if you haven't told them what you want. In fact, I suggest you tell your people in a memo that you want plain English. Tell them to write the way they talk, use pronouns, use headings, use contractions—everything. And let your memo illustrate those techniques. Then people will see the new style in action—with your signature on it.

You can use the memo time and again as you move on to new positions or as new people come to work for you. In fact, I've worked with organizations where the president's memo on writing was one of the first pieces of paper a new employee received.

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