Shirley's Articles / Business Writing

Consider Your Reader When You Write

In all our writing workshops and in all my books, I recommend that after you’ve drafted a message, don’t hit ‘send’ immediately. First, it’s important to take off your head! Yes, take off your head! And put on the head of… the reader!

Put yourself in your reader’s position. Imagine how the reader will feel as your message pops up on their screen and they read your message. When you read it as though you are the reader, it can make a huge difference.

As you check through your message, wearing your reader’s head of course, here are some questions to ask yourself:

  1. Is your message clear and concise?
  2. Could anything be misinterpreted?
  3. Is it organised and structured logically?
  4. Could you break anything down into numbers or bullets?
  5. Have you used any old-fashioned words or redundant phrases?
  6. Have you used an appropriate tone?
  7. Have you clearly stated the action required?
  8. Have you used language you would use if you were speaking to the reader?

When you read out your message carefully, you may decide to revise certain parts of your message. You may decide to break some points into bullets. You may tighten up your sentences and remove redundancies. You may restructure it so the message flows more logically.

When you do this, it will help your reader and it will also help you – because you’re more likely to get the response you want.

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Shirley is an international bestselling author. She has established herself as a leading authority in email and business writing skills. Her international bestseller Model Business Letters, Emails & Other Business Documents 7th edition sold over half a million copies worldwide and has been translated into 17 languages. Her book Email Essentials reached #2 in the USA for publishers Marshall Cavendish International. Find out more about Shirley at

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