Many supervisors and managers ask me for help when their employees can’t organize information. Of course, organization depends on the document. But here are five solutions I offer supervisors and managers to help employees organize their messages.
- Insist that every document get to the point within 50 words. Tell employees you won’t read a document that doesn’t get to the point right away.
- Insist that employees use headings in reports, recommendations, and other messages to make information skimmable. Headings will force them to categorize information.
- Allow just one main idea per paragraph. In disorganized messages, a mishmash of ideas packs each paragraph.
- Allow just one idea per sentence. With just one idea in it, almost any sentence can get organized.
- Limit the words per sentence–no more than 15 to 20 words on average. It’s hard for short sentences to get out of hand.
For detailed ways to organize your business writing–or someone else’s–read my latest newsletter. The feature article is "Organize Information the Easy Way." Although the information is valuable for business writers, the newsletter is free. Besides that, I don’t use your email address for anything besides sending you the newsletter—I promise.
If you want 60 detailed solutions to help employees write better, check out my guide, Help Employees Write Better: A Guide for Managers, Trainers, and Others Who Care About Business Writing.