Writing communications for business is a lot like swimming, if you don’t know the water you better stay out.

How deep is the water?  What’s the temperature? Jumping in cold water… brrrrrrr…  jumping into hot …well, just ask a lobster. Rocks in the water? In case you didn’t notice, rocks don’t move. And what if someone else is already in the water?  What if they get in your way, panic and try to pull you under?

There are many dangers in not knowing the water.

Writing business communications is similar. If you don’t know what you’re getting into you can get yourself in some serious trouble. Here’s how to avoid those common, sometimes dangerous, errors when writing business communications.

Communications Tip #1 HOW DEEP IS THE WATER?

Many communications  are written without knowing the characteristics of the audience. Who is reading your communication?  Is it your team member, your boss, your client or the CEO? Each of these communications  need a different style and tone appropriate to the audience. Don’t think that one style of communication fits all. Each of these audiences requires a different degree of information.

Your CEO doesn’t need all the details. What the CEO needs is a high level summary of the important points. Your client needs something different as does your boss and your team members.

You must fit the style, tone and content of your communications to the audience.

Communications Tip #2: WHAT”S THE TEMPERATURE?

Is this a hot communication or cold? Is this high priority or low?

Be clear on the urgency of your communications.   As in all things in life, timing is critical. Act and expect actions depending on the pressures of the situation.

Communications Tip #3: WHERE ARE THE ROCKS?

What is lying in wait for your communications?

Is there a chance your communication could be interpreted the wrong way? Could someone take the wrong action based on this misinterpretation?  Could your communication get blocked?

And though seemingly innocent, you mustn’t overlook those nasty little fish that hover around rocks and cause you distraction?

Don’t assume that you can simply avoid issues without knowing the dangers. Know the danger of your words and write your communications with these risks in mind.

Communications Tip #4: IS ANYBODY ELSE IN THE WATER?

This is the tip that many tend to forget. Who else is in the water? Who are the other players? Are they sending communications for or against your needs? How can you take advantage of communications by others? Can you piggyback on their information?

Be aware of others, whether they support or negate your cause and determine your best approach.


In swimming and in business communications, play safe. Do the right thing, at the right time and you will enjoy your day and all going well, catch some additional rays.