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Is the CEO Pleased, Excited, or Thrilled?

Shelley, who works for a large medical organization, wrote to ask about writing for executives. She wondered about the right language to use when writing as the CEO (chief executive officer). Should the CEO be “excited” or “pleased”?

It depends. Writing for other people has two components: sounding like them and making them look good. If you write documents for other people, be sure to do both.

Which of these sentences would be appropriate coming from your company’s CEO?

  1. I am excited to tell you that Michelle Mills is coming to work for Our Company Inc. as VP of Info. Services.
  2. I am pleased to announce that Michelle Mills will join us as Vice President of Information Services.
  3. I am thrilled to reveal that Michelle Mills has agreed to be VP, IS.

My choice is Number 2, but it depends on your CEO. I believe most CEOs would be “pleased to announce” rather than “excited to tell” or “thrilled to reveal.” I am guessing the phrase “will join us” would sound more natural than “come to work for Our Company Inc.” or “has agreed to be,” at least in a public announcement. “Agreed to be” suggests that it took some work to get her to say yes.

I also prefer Number 2 because it states the complete title, Vice President of Information Services, rather than an abbreviated version. The complete title conveys the position’s stature, and it is clear. “VP, IS” might sound like the name of a band or an island.

If you write for the CEO or other people at C-level, remember that it is their responsibility to communicate the organization’s mission, vision, strength, energy, and focus. That’s a big job. Be sure to have someone else review the message if the executive does not read it. A second set of eyes and an ear for language may recognize something you missed.

Excited? Pleased? Thrilled? It depends. Convey the CEO’s personality–not your own–and communicate with the confidence and professionalism expected of someone in that high position.


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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.