More than half of the documents we are commissioned to edit and enhance are directed at board directors and senior business executives: CEOs, CFOs, CIOs, CMOs. These are people who make the decisions that ultimately enable their organisations to succeed or fail. They are also people who have 101 other documents clamouring for their attention.
Many years ago, my then-boss briefed me to write a doco aimed at convincing the head of a brewery to consolidate twelve of the brewery’s most successful outlets under the same brand name.
‘Apart from what’s in the notes, what else do I need to know?’ I asked.
‘That the guy who is going to make the call is going to get another ten, maybe 20 props on the day ours arrives. And he is going to have time to read perhaps two or three of them. Having the best argument is important; but having the most readable argument is even more important.’
I was reminded of this conversation the other day when I received a ‘pack’ from the guys who insure our motor vehicles. The first three pages covered … I know not what. I started reading but then fell asleep. It was not until page four that we go down to what was covered and what they intended to charge. All of that could so easily have been on page one. As it is, I still haven’t got around to reading the last couple of pages – which will, presumably, tell us what we need to do next.