The need to communicate research summaries and findings is not limited to academia. In the workplace and beyond, being able to share research in an easy-to-access and digestible format is important for teams to collaborate effectively. Ideally, good written communication is clear, direct and concise. Being both clear and direct makes it obvious to the reader what they’re expected to take away, and the next steps they can take.
For example, an industry research report might point to a need for changes in sales or marketing strategy. A clear and direct report would make this obvious to the reader, instead of assuming they would be able to come to that conclusion simply using the information given. Likewise, concise communication allows you to hold the reader's attention so they can digest the message you’re conveying. If the reader gets lost in lengthy explanations, and unnecessary context, they’re less likely to understand your message or gain value from your information.
Define Your Message
The first step to clear and direct writing is knowing what you want to say. Before you write, take some time to think and plan. You can produce a rough outline, mindmap and even a more structured framework for complex pieces of writing. Being able to define the core message or take away gives the end point that you need to build up to. It can be tempting to dive straight into writing once you have all the research. However, this can get messy and cause you to stray from the main point. By taking the time to stop writing and start thinking, you’ll save time and produce higher quality, focused writing.
If you need a starting point, genei is the ideal tool to use. Genei will produce AI summaries, keyword lists, and document outlines for research articles, web pages and pdfs. This information can act as an outline for your own work. Or, provide a framework for you to begin making notes and organising your thoughts in genei’s notepad. You can plan more effectively using detailed research summarises alongside your own notes. For more genei guidance, check out our use case guides, and articles.
Know Your Reader
Often, we know what we want to say and feel our writing is clear enough. This doesn’t necessarily mean our writing is accessible, engaging or actionable for the reader. Tailoring your writing to your reader is easier if you have pre-defined the core message or desired result. Then, it’s important to understand the reader. Why are they reading this? What’s in it for them? How much do they know about the given topic? You can make some assumptions about what you think they’re likely to know. While not all of this information will be relevant, this gives a starting point for focusing on the reader, rather than yourself.
Tips for Clear, Concise and Direct Written Communication
Good written communication is often the result of careful and focused editing. This is why getting that first draft down is so important. Your first draft can be messy, and might even be part of that initial planning process. Now, you have content to reorganise, review and remove as needed. It’s far easier to make meaningful edits that improve the quality of your writing when you have the content down. Trying to write a perfect piece from the start is time consuming and likely to have the opposite effect. Editing your first draft allows you to actively review the structure, clarity and simplicity of your writing. During editing, you can consider the following writing tools and tips:
Sometimes it can be difficult to digest and share the complex ideas of another. It might feel easier to use their complex terms, or stick to the structure of their idea. However, this can lead to your writing lacking clarity. Paraphrasing allows you to reshare another’s work in your own words while preserving the original meaning. This means you can tailor research findings to your audience, and still not stray from the original message.
Concise writing is important for holding the reader’s attention. You can keep written content concise by providing a summarised overview of key findings, main points, and even your own work. This will keep your readers engaged while still communicating the necessary context. For industry research reports, it’s ideal to end with a 3-4 sentence summary of the entire report. This highlights how important summarising can be in business communication, and is an essential skill for clear and concise writing.
Good written communication follows a logical, easy to follow structure. For certain documents or reports, there may already be an industry standard for their structure. Be sure to follow these recommendations - standards ensure the relevant information has been covered. However, structure also applies to how information is organised within sections and paragraphs. Is it clear how these findings led to your conclusion? Have you included the relevant context before sharing a key insight? A good structure will make your writing impactful, and engaging. Your reader will feel informed as they progress, and be able to relate to the insights or conclusions provided.
A key aspect of good structure within a document, section or paragraph is getting to the point. If you propose your key point in the middle of your writing, you might lose the reader. Sharing the main point early on means the reader knows what to expect next, and are prepared to expand their understanding of the point made. You can be more direct by using short focused sentences or summaries. This ensures your reader is getting the key points and your message has been clarified well.
If you want to hold your readers attention, or produce effective summaries, you need to be concise. This can also be important for meeting tight word counts. To make your writing concise, you can use the short form of words and phrases. For example, concept instead of conceptualise, or however rather than ‘on the other hand’. You can also work on sentence length and structure. Short sentences that start with the subject are ideal for concise writing. Finally, actively focusing on one point at a time can improve the conciseness of your writing. For more tips on concise word choices, see this guide.
Take the Reader's Perspective
You can pinpoint revisions or edits for your writing by comparing your initial writing goals with the actual written result. This is a great way to ensure that you’re on track with the subject matter. But, this doesn’t guarantee that your writing is ideal for the reader. Research has shown that writers who can take their reader’s perspective are able to communicate their ideas more effectively. This highlights that you need to consider what you’ve written from the reader’s point of view. Even if you considered the reader beforehand, you might not have been consistent with this when writing.
To do this, it can be easiest to share your work with a colleague or friend. Feedback is an effective way to refine your writing. You can also take a break from the work and come back later to proofread. While proofreading, consider whether the structure is logical for the reader, or the language is accessible. Think about what you would take away from your report if you didn’t have the relevant background knowledge.