Contributed by Bryce Ward
Despite all the technological advancements in communication, the written word has not only persevered but flourished. In an age where we can call someone and talk face-to-face over a cell phone in a matter of seconds, the old-fashioned written word has not only survived, but flourished. There are practical reasons why written communication is still widely used (e.g., it can be crafted for a large group of people and accessed at their leisure), but the more prominent reason is less apparent: the written word allows you to craft your message as effectively as possible.
When you send an email to a potential client, you have the opportunity to send them the best version of yourself through thoughtful writing and diligent editing. Other forms of communication don’t afford you this luxury – when you’re on a phone call or in a face-to-face meeting with a potential client, you have one opportunity to make an impression; but with an email or letter, you have endless opportunities to create the perfect sales pitch. That is why written communication skill continues to be a crucial tool in any entrepreneur’s arsenal.
This isn’t to say that face-to-face encounters aren’t important, though – in fact, they are often more important than written communication when you’re trying to build a close, personal relationship with a client. However, the advantage of being able to craft your message down to its very punctuation cannot be ignored. That being said, the importance of written communication skills cannot be stressed enough, because for the same reason an email can be advantageous, it can also be detrimental if your written communication skill is lacking.
Because the written word affords you the luxury of time when crafting your message, to send anything less than a conscientious effort can come across as disrespectful to your clients. Think of emails like a gift basket you compiled yourself. If your client has a peanut allergy, you’re not going to want to send them peanut M&M’s; and are you going to just send them a cardboard box piled with whatever you could find? No, you’re going to pick the best snacks you could find, maybe even the ones your clients especially like, and place them in a wicker basket with a bow on top. The same goes for an email. Every word should matter, each paragraph break should be intentionally placed, and the overall product should be something you’re proud to put your name on.
The importance of well-crafted written communication cannot be stressed enough. Despite the rise in visual communication mediums, written communication will always be important. And even if the client you’re reaching out to doesn’t mind a disjointed, hastily composed email, they will still notice and appreciate a cohesive, thoughtful one. The new writing-assistance technologies like Grammarly can be useful for those who struggle with written communication, but they should only be used as temporary, and not long term, solutions because they can result in unoriginal, generic, cliché-type writing. Even while writing this very blog post my word document processor has suggested multiple stylistic changes that would make my writing look just like other people’s writing – but I don’t want my writing to look like others’, just like I wouldn’t want to send the same gift basket as my competitor, even if it looks great.
Improving your written communication isn’t difficult, either. All it takes is a diligent mind and a meticulous attitude. So next time you sit down to write an important email, spend an extra couple of minutes writing it, reread it one extra time, and maybe it will be enough to set you apart from the countless other emails your client receives.