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How to Impress a Client

This week I impressed a client with my written communication. In response to an email from me, he began his message: Wow! I have to say I am impressed with how organized and focused you are.

He ended his email this way: Thanks for making it easy to work with you!

What did I do that impressed my client and inspired him to compliment me?

Three Little Things

  1. Organized information. I organized my detailed message into seven crisp categories. In my case, the categories were Publicity, Planning, Equipment, Training Space, etc. (Note: My message was in response to his inquiry, "What are our next steps?")
  2. Used bullet points. For each category, I used one bullet point. The shortest bullet point was 17 words. The longest bullet was 75 words, broken into subpoints.
  3. Inserted headings. I began each bullet point with a heading in bold type, making the message easy to skim. Above the list of bullet points, I used the heading Requested Action Steps. This heading immediately focused my reader on action. The word Requested made my list polite rather than pushy. (Note: I added my headings after I had written the bullet points. Because the points were already written, it was easy to insert headings to "announce" them.)

My message looked like the text above, clear and easy to follow.

I am sharing my success so that you can receive compliments too. Try the three little things above to impress your reader clients, customers, managers, users, employees, and others. Make it easy to work with you.

Please write to share your successes.


Alternate search spellings: writen, communaition, communciation, communcation, emial, mesage, wirting, bullit

Posted by Lynn Gaertner Johnson
By Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston has helped thousands of employees and managers improve their business writing skills and confidence through her company, Syntax Training. In her corporate training career of more than 20 years, she has worked with executives, engineers, scientists, sales staff, and many other professionals, helping them get their messages across with clarity and tact.

A gifted teacher, Lynn has led writing classes at more than 100 companies and organizations such as MasterCard, Microsoft, Boeing, Nintendo, REI, AARP, Ledcor, and Kaiser Permanente. Near her home in Seattle, Washington, she has taught managerial communications in the MBA programs of the University of Washington and UW Bothell. She has created a communications course, Business Writing That Builds Relationships, and provides the curriculum at no cost to college instructors.

A recognized expert in business writing etiquette, Lynn has been quoted in "The Wall Street Journal," "The Atlantic," "Vanity Fair," and other media.

Lynn sharpened her business writing skills at the University of Notre Dame, where she earned a master's degree in communication, and at Bradley University, with a bachelor's degree in English. She grew up in suburban Chicago, Illinois.

4 comments on “How to Impress a Client”

  • I think you’re easy to work with too! After co-presenting the web workshop on Writing for High-Speed Readers with you last week, I found myself reviewing and editing my emails to do exactly what you advocate. Several times I added headings and broke up long sentences into bullets. My emails were much cleaner and clearer as a result. Thanks for your great advice.

  • Hi Lynn,

    I have just found you, and am totally loving your blog. Your ideas are really useful for me, and for my students. I’m an ESL teacher in Mexico City.

    I have an email related question for you: I’m doing a workshop on effective emailing, and one of the points we’re working on is writing brief emails that don’t turn into books.

    The workshop participants are lawyers, and they have asked: What’s the best way to deal with legal discussions in email?

    At the moment, the lawyers that I’ve been working with all say that most of their emails go long because they need to support their answers by quoting certain bits of the local tax law. (They’re a tax firm.)

    Is this good practice? Do you have any suggestions? Most of their work turns out to be 3 – 5 page emails that are just…well..nasty long!

    I suggested they write a really brief intro – like a few lines – informing the client of the general answer, then point them towards an attachment where the whole detailed legal discussion takes place.

    Does this make sense to you? Am I on the right track?

    Thanks for your consideration,

    Aaron Nelson
    Mexico City

  • Aaron, I think your solution is perfect, and I agree with your thinking 100 percent. The email response should be a short answer, with the attachment providing the long answer and discussion.

    One selling point for the long answer in the attachment is the ability to format the response elegantly. Email responses are often read as text-only files, and any formatting is lost or jumbled.

    Keep up the good work in international communication! And please write with comments and questions. I am sure you have a unique perspective to share.

    Thank you for writing.

  • Lynn,

    Thank you so much for your response and advice. I really appreciate it.

    I’ll be quoting you tomorrow in our workshop. Who knows, maybe I can create some more fans for your blog here in Mexico.

    Thanks again for your help,

Comments are closed.