As we’ve learned, successful business communicators meet their audience’s needs. Organization is one more way to do that. When a document is well-organized, readers can easily get the information they need. Good organization also helps readers see the connections between ideas.
We know that time is one of the biggest constraints in modern business communication. Most people get a lot of emails, and so often must skim. If you can’t capture your audience’s attention in the first few seconds, you risk losing it completely. When organizing business documents, we therefore need to ask ourselves some questions:
- What is the most important thing for the audience to know?
- What does the audience need to know first? Second?
- How can I draw attention to key points using organizational aids like headings and bullet points? (For more information on headings and bullet points, check out the chapter on Visual Communication Strategies).
- Will my audience understand the connections between my ideas? If not, how can I help them?
- Should all the information be in the document, or should some of it be in attachments or links?
To give you some strategies for tackling these questions, we’ll take a look at a few tools in your organizational toolbox:
- Headings and subheadings
But first, let’s see how all of these work together. Take a look at the visual below. Which one do you think your audience is most likely to read: the black text, the red text, the blue text or the green text? Probably, your audience would read the black text, the red text, the blue text and then the green text. You can explore the graphic below to learn a little more about organization. We’ll go into detail later in the chapter.