Do you ever have the experience of reading a company’s boilerplate description—that all-important paragraph or two that explains who they are and what they do—and coming away from it like you’ve just been shackled to a day-old word salad bar?
It seems like startups must think that the longer and more undecipherable a description is, the higher its value. As if by making the reader go over it twice or more times to figure out what they really mean by those words inflates the company’s importance.
I would argue no. It doesn’t. All it does is annoy the reader. Here’s a few other misconceptions about business communication:
- It has to use language only insiders understand. Closely related to the point above, I suspect, to give the piece “authority.” Business communications are not always directed at peers, however, and if you’re going to use terms not widely understood, define them clearly the first time they appear. Throw that lifeline!
- It has to be lengthy to be worthwhile. If it’s long it must have gravitas. Here business communication can take a cue from its distant cousin journalism: explain what the reader needs to know clearly and briefly. She’s likely busy. As in so many areas of our lives, less is more.
- It has to be rare, as in acceptable norms and intervals. Why? Somebody somewhere invented what we now see as normal when it filled a need. Innovation has the added bonus of excitement, thus, a multiplier effect.
- Related to rare, it has to limit itself to accepted forms (i.e., yawner powerpoints). The world increasingly wants visuals, video and photos. Social media use tells us that the younger generations of users prefer visual-based platforms (such as Instagram and Snapchat) over text-based ones (Facebook, Twitter). At the very least, include it more. (By the way, I write scripts.)