That is the question that has constantly been haunting us since high school. Whether it’s getting accepted to college, or getting your first internship. Now, with the end of your college career approaching, you might be feeling more and more pressure and confusion. You constantly feel out of control. I’m here to tell you you are……..n’t entirely out of control. We’re going to get you prepared and a competitive advantage with what you already have.
User Centered Design Again???
Yes there’s more, last week I discussed user centered design briefly in my post titled UCD. However, I mostly centered (pun intended) the post around the visually aesthetic elements of designing documents such as the HATS technique. It was all about accessing information easily and quickly. This week I’m going to focus more on your audience. I’m going to tie together user centered design and rhetorical awareness. Purdue Owl speaks to both User Centered Design as well as Rhetorical Analysis. Both of these have proven to make better business writing for the past two decades. In business writing, we want to focus on the situation and the objective that needs to be obtained.
What’s the point of business writing?
To be persuasive in a professional manner right? I knew you could answer that one. But how does one be persuasive? By incorporating rhetorical awareness. Important aspects of business writing that rhetorical awareness focus’s on, once again according to Purdue Owl, are: purpose, audience, context, and stakeholders. With a clear focus on these five viewpoints, you’re sure to please and persuade. I believe you should be familiar with the first three categories. So I’m mainly going to focus on stakeholders, but first…
How can I be more persuasive?
In an article by Street Directory, they refer to persuasion as an art, which it truly is. Some people do have a natural talent, but others have to work at it. Like anything you do in life, you have to practice practice practice. The article mentions the way you refer to others in business writing affects the power of it’s persuasion. For example, if you keep using words referring to yourself such as as ‘I’ or ‘me’ it’s going to make the reader subconsciously think that you’re selfish. The article then goes on to say, “good writing psychology requires that you present your message in light of the reader’s viewpoint rather than your own.” I don’t know about you, but this is a very valid point that would have never crossed my mind before I happened upon these tips. Other very easy tips to use are simply to be warm as well as have good manners.
Who holds the stakes??
The stakeholders, duh! Well yes, but who exactly are the stakeholders and how can you know? In a company, for example, the stakeholders are the employees, board of directors, stockholders, customers, suppliers, and so on and so forth. In an article titled Consider Your Audience, you are encouraged to look at the different groups of users reading your documents. Additionally, it tells you that you must consider them at the beginning of your piece, not when you’re editing or many drafts later. That’s too late. There’s really know way for you to be sure exactly who is going to be affected by what you do and write. In an article by Suzan Maur, she says that writing to and keeping in mind stakeholders is much more tricky and more of a challenge. Of course it’s a challenge, you have to think about everyone (or almost everyone) that’s going to be affected by your writing. That’s a long list of people potentially. By not focusing on your stakeholders, it makes for poor communication and relations. It’s kind of like the six degrees of separation. Potentially everyone in the world could read your writing. But let’s not get too out of hand, that’s super improbable. Let’s just focus on the small chain of people you KNOW are going to be affected and could view your writing.
Just focus and remain cautious and aware through this whole process. Make sure you keep your stakeholders in mind and practice the persuasion techniques above.