Don’t Get To The Point, Start With It

Start your communications with the Bottom Line Up Front.

There is a lot of communication in a project. It is only one part of the communications going on in today’s workplace. Put yourself in the place of the reader. They have hundreds of emails, with or without attachments, to read. They have reports to review and all sorts of other communications coming at them.

Have you ever missed the point of a conversation because while you were busy wishing the other person would get to the point, you suddenly realize that they have finished speaking.

How many times have you heard, or said, “I read your email, I missed that question?”

The reader will look at your communication and try to quickly decide if they need to read it completely. They skim through to pick up a few facts. They look to see if there is anything important.

If the objective is buried at the in the middle or lost at the end, there is a good chance your message gets lost. Do not assume that the reader will get beyond the first line. In other words, and using the military acronym for Bottom Line Up Front, begin with the BLUF and make sure the message gets through.

What is the purpose of your communication? Are you asking for a meeting? Do you need a decision? Is it an update?

Start with the reason for the communication and grab your audience’s attention. It’s like a good first line to novel, you read it and you want to continue reading. Begin with “I would like to meet to discuss …” and the reader will read on to find out what the meetings about. “I am requesting your approval for …” will get the person to continue and find out what they are being asked to approve. Put the project status in the first line and the details are needed to put the status into context.

Beginning all your communication with the objective of will help you communicate crisply and business like. You are no longer telling a long stories. Starting with the request for a meeting will help you focus on what the meeting is for. Asking for an approval upfront will make you describe the choice to make and a status needs supporting facts.

Saying that something was said in the project communication may cover your responsibilities. Using BLUF to ensure that your messages are heard among all the noise will help make the project a success.

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