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Key Elements To Good Procedures -- Understand Your Audience

Procedures exist to be read and used. The first step in writing a good procedure is to know whom it is you are writing for.
As we mentioned in an earlier post 4 Key Elements To Good Procedures, the first element you should keep in mind for writing policies and procedures that your colleagues and employees WANT to read and is the audience. We are always amazed at how often that smart people forget this simple concept. Stop and think about who will be reading your document and why!
REMEMBER: People only read procedures for two main reasons:
1. They are clueless and don’t know what to do or how to begin.
2. Something went wrong and they need help.
Before you write ANYTHING, stop and understand your audience. Make sure you fully understand . . .
  • how much or how little they already know
  • their work environment
  • their reading ability
  • their available resources
  • their time constraints
  • their common problems

Then, write in the “language” your reader best understands. Of course, everyone knows that you shouldn’t write in Russian if your audience speaks English, but there are many types of “English.” There is Engineering English, Accounting English, Mechanic English, First Grade English, and countless other English “languages” you could choose.
If you write in the wrong language (for your audience), your procedure might as well be written in a foreign language like Russian. Your audience won’t be able to read it, or they will find it hard to follow and annoying even if they can.
By applying this (frequently forgotten rule) know your audience, you will find yourself writing policies and procedures that people actually want to read!
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