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Lesson 4. The Opening Is the "Bottom Line" > The 30-Second Recap - Pg. 16

The Opening Is the "Bottom Line" The remainder of this summary would lay out the test results in more detail, including information on why the ad was so memorable yet so unpersuasive. 16 Caution While you need to keep the overview brief, it shouldn't leave out critical information. Don't let the reader be surprised by an important fact later in your document. Responding to the Overview The three people who receive this document will each have very different needs regarding it. The vice president of sales may be interested in the results, but these results are not his top priority. After reading nothing but the subject line, he can decide to skip reading this document for the mo- ment, saving it until he has some time to catch up on reading not directly related to sales. The vice president of marketing has all the information she needs after the first four sentences-- she must make a go/no-go decision on this campaign, and the answer in this case is clearly no, since the ad does not meet company standards with respect to persuasiveness. The vice president of advertising, however, can tell after the first three sentences that he will need to read and digest all of the information in the entire memo. Since his job is to direct the creation of a campaign that is both memorable and persuasive, he'll need to get into the details of the document to see what consumers found memorable, and why they didn't find the ad persuasive. Tip Make sure the subject line fully encompasses the topics discussed in the memo so your readers will know the memo is important to them. For each of the document's recipients, the first few sentences provide the reader with a clear idea of what the document is about, what key information is contained in it, and what he or she needs to do right now in response. This "quick read" is a significant time-saver for each reader. Even the vice president of advertising, who would need to read the entire memo, benefits from the overview--he knows what he's looking for and what he's going to need to do with the information (in this case, try to maintain memorability while improving persuasiveness in the next version of the advertising). Plain English An effective business document is one that truthfully conveys all the important information on a subject in a way that convinces the reader to do what you'd like him to do. Caution If you don't know what you want your reader to do with the information you're presenting, you can't write an effective document. An effective business document begins with an effective Overview section. A well-written overview tells all the recipients exactly what to expect in the remainder of the document, and allows them to make a quick but informed decision on what to do with the information you're presenting. The im- portant elements of the overview are your statement of purpose (why you're writing), what you want from the reader, and what your point of view is on the information you're providing. Tip Collect samples of documents you believe are especially well-written, particularly ones that deal with the same kinds of issues you deal with in your business writing. Then you can emulate the structure of those well-written documents in your own writing. The 30-Second Recap · State the intent of your document in the first two or three sentences.