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Last updated on 2/11/20

Structure your ideas and prioritise the information

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You have almost finished preparing your document! To complete this preparation, you need to structure your ideas and prioritise the information. In fact, even if you choose the most suitable format and you draft it perfectly, a rambling, disjointed text will not communicate efficiently. 😊

Gather your information

First of all, you need to gather all the information about the subject that you are going to use in your document.

Ensure you keep all this information in the same place so that you can access it as you draft your document. It's also important to keep a trail, once your document is drafted, so that you can return to it later without spending time retrieving the information. For example, if someone asks you for clarification or the source of your points.

Select information that’s useful to the recipient

No doubt, you know a lot about the subject you are writing about, but your reader doesn’t need all this information. So, select only information that’s useful to your recipient. You can add to it later if necessary.

For example, if you’re working in a consultancy firm and you learn that a law has changed that affects your client, you need to be concise and informative in the first instance. If, however, your client has already called upon your services and is asking you for clarification, you will go into more detail about it. Everything at the right time!

In a professional context, each intermediary receives a lot of information every day. Sort the information and only send what is important for them. There is nothing more irritating than receiving an email that contains loads of information that does not directly concern us!

For example, if your company is located on several different sites, there's no point sending all the sites information that only concerns one of them.

Adapt the information

You also need to adapt the style of your vocabulary according to your reader’s expertise. You, no doubt, have a specialism, but your specialism isn't necessarily the same as that of the person to whom you are addressing your document.

Adapt your vocabulary: don’t use technical words or jargon if you are addressing yourself to management or to a member of another team. Re-read your work properly, while trying to explain things as simply as possible. If you must use specialised vocabulary, explain it well.

Organise the information

To be effective, the information needs to be organised and presented in a logical way which means you must formulate a plan. Even if your writing is drafted with perfect grammar and style, the reader will be lost if the ideas do not follow each other and are without a logical flow!

There are several types of plans:

Chronological order

Chronological order can be useful, for example, in minutes, because it allows the timeline of what occurred to be reported.

Thematic order

Thematic order is useful when you need to look at a subject from various points of view.

Example:

The BUTEX company has decided to renew all of its IT equipment at its office in Colombes.

From a company point of view, renewing the equipment will involve a loss of productivity during its implementation, with a subsequent clear improvement.

From a cash flow perspective, implementing the investment will cause a cash outflow in the year 2018 in the sum of €50,000.

From an accounting perspective, the newly acquired IT equipment will be amortised over five years, leading to ….

Argument-based order

An argument-based order will be useful, for example, when your reader does not share your favoured solution.

Example:

 (Thesis) This supplier does not seem to me to be the answer to our problem. 

(Antithesis or concession) I have taken on board that the price they offer is not high and that we have major financial constraints at the moment.

(Synthesis) However, even if the cost is low, if the work is not done properly, we will not have solved anything. I suggest that we ask the other supplier for a 10% reduction so that we can combine quality and affordability.

To indicate the various stages in your plan, consider using linking words.

You now know how to prepare your documents. Over to drafting!

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