The AIM planning process is a method for creating effective business messages that considers the needs and preferences of the audience, the intent and purpose of the message, and the best way to convey the message. The process consists of three steps: audience analysis, idea development, and message structuring. In this article, we will focus on the final step, message structuring, and how it relates to the following aspects of communication: tone, style, format, and organization.
Tone: How to Sound Professional and Persuasive
The tone of your message is the impression you create with your choice of words, sentences, and punctuation. It reflects your attitude towards your audience, your topic, and yourself. A good tone for business messages is professional, courteous, confident, and respectful. You want to sound like an expert who knows what you are talking about, but also like a person who cares about your audience and their needs. To achieve this tone, you should:
- Use positive and polite language. Avoid negative words that might offend or discourage your audience, such as “no”, “not”, “never”, “can’t”, “won’t”, etc. Instead, use words that express possibility, opportunity, benefit, or solution, such as “yes”, “can”, “will”, “may”, “could”, etc.
- Use active voice. Active voice means that the subject of the sentence performs the action, rather than being acted upon by the verb. For example, “We have completed the project” is active voice, while “The project has been completed by us” is passive voice. Active voice makes your sentences more clear, concise, and direct. It also shows that you take responsibility for your actions and results.
- Use appropriate level of formality. Depending on your audience and purpose, you may need to adjust your level of formality in your message. Formality refers to how formal or informal your language is. Formal language is more polite, respectful, and impersonal. It uses standard grammar, punctuation, and vocabulary. Informal language is more casual, friendly, and personal. It uses slang, abbreviations, contractions, and colloquialisms. Generally speaking, formal language is more suitable for external audiences (such as customers or clients), while informal language is more suitable for internal audiences (such as colleagues or managers). However, you should always consider the context and expectations of your audience before choosing your level of formality.
Style: How to Make Your Message Clear and Concise
The style of your message is the way you express your ideas using words and sentences. It affects how easy or difficult it is for your audience to understand and remember your message. A good style for business messages is clear and concise. You want to make your message as simple and straightforward as possible, without sacrificing accuracy or completeness. To achieve this style, you should:
- Use plain language. Plain language means using words that are familiar and easy to understand by your audience. Avoid jargon, technical terms, or acronyms that might confuse or alienate your audience. If you need to use such terms, make sure to explain them clearly or provide a glossary.
- Use short sentences. Short sentences mean using fewer words and clauses in each sentence. Long sentences can be hard to follow and may contain unnecessary or redundant information. Short sentences can help you communicate your main points more effectively and avoid confusion or misunderstanding.
- Use transitions. Transitions are words or phrases that connect your sentences and paragraphs logically and smoothly. They help your audience follow your flow of thought and see how your ideas relate to each other. Transitions can indicate contrast (such as “however”, “but”, “on the other hand”), comparison (such as “similarly”, “likewise”, “in the same way”), cause and effect (such as “because”, “therefore”, “as a result”), sequence (such as “first”, “next”, “finally”), or emphasis (such as “in fact”, “moreover”, “indeed”).
Format: How to Make Your Message Attractive and Accessible
The format of your message is the way you present your message visually using elements such as fonts, colors, images, headings, lists, tables, etc. It affects how appealing and easy to read your message is for your audience. A good format for business messages is attractive and accessible. You want to make your message look professional and inviting, and also make it easy for your audience to find and understand the information they need. To achieve this format, you should:
- Use consistent fonts and colors. Fonts are the typefaces you use for your text, such as Arial or Times New Roman. Colors are the hues you use for your text, backgrounds, or graphics, such as black or blue. Consistent fonts and colors mean using the same or similar fonts and colors throughout your message. This can help you create a unified and harmonious look for your message, and also make it easier for your audience to recognize and remember your brand or identity.
- Use images and graphics. Images are pictures or photos that illustrate or support your message, such as charts or diagrams. Graphics are visual elements that enhance or decorate your message, such as logos or icons. Images and graphics can help you attract your audience’s attention and interest, and also make your message more engaging and memorable. However, you should use them sparingly and appropriately, and make sure they are relevant and clear.
- Use headings and lists. Headings are titles or subtitles that indicate the main topics or sections of your message, such as “Introduction” or “Conclusion”. Lists are series of items that are related or similar in some way, such as bullet points or numbers. Headings and lists can help you organize and structure your message logically and hierarchically, and also make it easier for your audience to scan and locate the information they need.
Organization: How to Arrange Your Message Logically and Persuasively
The organization of your message is the way you order and group your ideas and information in your message. It affects how coherent and convincing your message is for your audience. A good organization for business messages is logical and persuasive. You want to make your message follow a clear and reasonable sequence, and also make it appeal to your audience’s needs and interests. To achieve this organization, you should:
- Use an outline. An outline is a plan or a skeleton of your message that shows the main points and subpoints of your message, and how they are connected. An outline can help you brainstorm and organize your ideas before you start writing, and also help you revise and edit your message after you finish writing.
- Use a common pattern. A pattern is a standard or common way of organizing your message according to its purpose, audience, or situation. There are many patterns you can choose from, such as chronological (order of time), spatial (order of space), topical (order of topics), problem-solution (state a problem and propose a solution), cause-effect (state a cause and explain its effects), etc. A common pattern can help you structure your message logically and coherently, and also help your audience follow and understand your message easily.
- Use an introduction, body, and conclusion. An introduction is the first part of your message that introduces your topic, purpose, audience, and main points. A body is the main part of your message that develops and supports your main points with evidence, examples, arguments, etc. A conclusion is the last part of your message that summarizes your main points, restates your purpose, and provides a call to action or a recommendation. An introduction, body, and conclusion can help you organize your message persuasively and effectively, and also help your audience remember and act on your message.
Message structuring is the final step in the AIM planning process for effective business messages. It involves choosing the right tone, style, format, and organization for your message according to your audience, intent, and message. By following the tips and guidelines in this article, you can create messages that are professional, clear, concise, attractive, accessible, logical, persuasive, coherent, convincing, engaging, memorable, effective. According to Asana, this can help you achieve better results in communication with customers, clients, colleagues, managers, stakeholders, etc.