Last year, Washington State Governor Chris Gregoire ordered all state agencies to adopt what she called “plain talk” principles. Since then, more than 2,000 state employees have attended training to help them write in clear, everyday language. And they’re seeing results in more than just concise memos.

For example, by revising one letter based on clear Persuasive Writing principles, the Department of Revenue tripled the number of businesses paying the sales tax on products they purchased out of state. As a result, the department collected over $800,000 extra in tax revenue.

“Simple changes can have profound results,” said Janet Shimabukuro, manager of the department’s taxpayer services program. “Plain talk isn’t only rewriting, it’s rethinking your approach and really personalizing your message to the audience and to the reader.”

That’s sweet music here at John Sturtevant Business Writing Training. Over the years we’ve been teaching Business Writing Courses that help business learn to think clearly and write what they mean. We encourage people to answer four fundamental questions before they actually start writing.

1.    Why am I writing?
2.    Who is my reader?
3.    What do I want my reader to learn?
4.    What do I expect to accomplish?

Answering those simple questions will make a dramatic difference in what you say and how you say it.