The other day I wanted to buy salmon at my local market. When I looked at the fish counter covered with ice and various fish, I did not see any salmon, so I asked the person behind the counter if he had any for sale. He looked at me, then pointed down into the counter. I realized I had not noticed a sign.
The sign said:
We are out of salmon.
I am not surprised I missed the sign when I was looking for salmon. After all, the sign emphasized SORRY rather than SALMON. Salmon was the final word, something I would not have seen as my eyes flitted around the icy counter.
The SORRY sign reminded me of the importance of highlighting what your audience needs in business communication. For example, if you are writing to announce a picnic, you need to highlight the words Picnic, Date, Time, Place, Rain Date (if you live in Seattle or other rainy places), RSVP, and other information your reader will scan for to make plans to be at the event. If you are reminding people about an upcoming webinar, you may need to highlight the word Online, especially if your audience usually attends classes in person.
People do not read every word. They scan email, text messages, web pages, memos, letters, proposals–even signs at the market. Don't give them a big SORRY. Give them what they need. Format your messages to emphasize what they seek.
Have you been able to find what you need in written pieces? I welcome your comments.