In a Better Business Writing class I led yesterday, many participants chose to write recommendations for their in-class writing practice. One recommended a new policy, for example, another recommended a process improvement, and another argued for the involvement of senior managers in a program.
When we worked on editing their drafts, I asked participants to tell us the positive words they had included in their recommendations. I stood ready to write their words on a white board.
No positive words came.
I clarified my request, asking, “Which positive words did you use to justify your recommendations?”
One participant called out the word “improved.” Another mentioned “successful.” But mostly they were silent, surprised to realize they had not done a good job of selling their ideas.
When you write a recommendation for a new process, policy, program, budget, etc., be sure to explain why your idea will benefit the organization. If you have data, include numbers to support your proposal. And include positive words and phrases to communicate the reasons for moving forward with your recommendation, things like these:
- increased transparency
- lower costs
- shorter lead time
- faster deliveries
- enhanced reputation
- improved morale
- more reliable data
- better benefits
- less rework
- greater (or less) exposure
- greater yield
- increased retention
As the person making a recommendation, you must have good reasons to back it up. Include your rationale in your email, memo, slide deck, article, proposal, letter, blog post, or whatever communication medium you choose. Emphasize the information that will be most persuasive for your readers.
If you do not present your ideas positively, why would anyone agree with them?
How do you sell the ideas in your recommendations? If your role is to approve recommendations, what makes you say yes? I welcome your comments.