I’d like to introduce you to a very talented writer named Gail Flores. See, I like to call myself a writer but when I think about what she writes versus what I write, I tend to feel rather uhhhh, what’s the word…. Silly?
You see, she is a medical writer, a scientific writer that supplies very intelligent and quite necessary information. She doesn’t write about making her butt look good in jeans or sneaking into her bathroom window so she doesn’t have to face people in her own home. But I will say this, the writing tip she is offering today is applicable to ALL writers….
Informational Writing: Just Tell Them What They Need to Know
I write training materials for pharmaceutical sales reps. Based on what I write, the sales reps are supposed to be able to have intelligent conversations with their customers—doctors—about the medications they are selling. Most pharmaceutical sales reps do not have a science or medical background, so these materials start with the basics.
But they don’t need to know EVERYTHING. In my industry, we call this “need to know” education – tell them exactly what they need to know to get the job done (educating doctors so that the right medications are given to the right patients), and nothing more. Don’t confuse them, and don’t fill their brains with tons of details that just aren’t necessary.
While I do a very specific type of writing, I’ve found that this strategy applies to other types of writing, like social media posts and emails, as well as to presentations, networking, and even volunteer work. Don’t waste time telling people stuff they don’t need (and probably don’t want) to know, and don’t clog their minds with minutia.
So – how do I streamline my writing to achieve this? First, I try to put myself in my readers’ shoes. I consider what they already know, what new stuff they truly need to know, and what details just aren’t necessary. Second, I think about the best way to present info – paragraph form, bulleted lists, tables, or labeled illustrations. (I have the luxury of working with amazing artists.) And of course, I always edit, edit, edit my work to get rid of extraneous words and make things even clearer.