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What’s in It for Me?

We can all get a good reminder from an email sales message I received from someone selling software for the classroom. Her second sentence was this:

I would appreciate the opportunity to present this information to you through a web demonstration which will occupy 30 minutes of your time.

This sentence is all wrong. It doesn’t focus on what’s in it for me, the reader. She gets the opportunity to present. What do I get? From that sentence–and the rest of the message–it appears that my payoff is having my time occupied for 30 minutes.

A revision might read one of these three ways:

In just 30 minutes, you will learn how to . . . .

In a quick web demo focused on your business, get 7 tips on how to transform your classroom.

In just 30 minutes you will find out how to save hours in . . . .

Remember: Focus on your reader, not on yourself.

Syntax Training

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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.