Writing Secret #6: Use Examples

Writing Secret #6: Use Examples

Have you ever left a presentation, abandoned a Web page or tossed out a business document, wondering what the heck the author was trying to say?

Examples clarify your memo, letter, presentation, or marketing communications message. In our fast-paced, technological world, clear communications are a huge challenge. What we’re trying to say is often fairly abstract, or requires a lot of background information. Examples make a complex or abstract message clearer and easier to grasp.

Good examples are concrete and specific, while points tend to be vague and fuzzy. The best are brief and effective. They add value by illustrating your points and making them visual. They paint pictures your audience can “see” in their minds. This accelerates their understanding — and isn’t that the goal of all communications?

Here are a few points, immediately followed by examples. That’s the best place for them, by the way. And don’t hide them. Hang the words for example or like on them, to signal that an example is coming.

Notice how each example clarifies the point and brings it to life in our mind’s eye.

Point #1:
To make sure each student gets plenty of individual attention, our classes are always small.

Example:
For example, our Career Track classes are limited to 12 students.

Point #2:
“Applications” are simply software programs…

Example:
… like Microsoft Word, Excel or Outlook.

Point #3:
We need to change some procedures when processing inventory.

Example:
For example, we now sort incoming inventory in the lobby, a messy procedure in full view of customers.

See how examples make each message clear? Use lots of them.

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