Share the country guess who is on the intranet
Intranet systems and the systems used on the Internet are becoming more and more similar. In the past, posting texts on the intranet was reserved for a few authors and editors. Today, more and more employees have the opportunity to write and publish texts on their intranet. In this article, I'll give you a few tips on what to look for when writing. Finally, you will receive a few online sources to deepen your knowledge.
Remember that your readers often have little time and scan the headlines on the intranet - just like on the Internet or in the daily newspaper. The first glance must cross the threshold of attention. In the next step, you need to describe to the reader what awaits him as a whole. The content must deliver what you promise in the packaging.
Rely on the principle of the inverted pyramid. Write the most important things first. Start with the general and only gradually unpack more details.
The headline (title)
Use a meaningful headline. It is the title of your text that arouses the reader's attention and curiosity. On the one hand, some systems specify the maximum length. On the other hand, long titles annoy the reader when scanning through a directory of several texts (for example on the start page or the search results page). As a rule of thumb, a title shouldn't have more than six words. Use Google's experience as a guide: Google does not show more than around 70 characters of a title on the search results page.
A subtitle explains the text and classifies it. Sometimes a category is used for this in the respective system.
The first paragraph
In the first paragraph, describe what the reader can expect. Based on the first paragraph, the reader decides whether to jump off or continue reading. In the first paragraph you should answer the seven "W questions":
- Where from?
The indication of the "where from" can often be omitted. You can also arouse curiosity with the question from where or underline the importance of the article ("Marketing today publishes its latest ... Yesterday the CEO already informed about the ...").
Some authors write the first paragraph when they are done with the text. Others write it first in order to be clear about the content for themselves.
It is very different for me. Sometimes I already know exactly what I'm going to write at the beginning. Then I first formulate the "W questions" in the form of the first paragraph for structuring and use them for research. Sometimes the content only evolves based on my research or my writing. Then I'll write a summary and use it as the first paragraph.
The first paragraph (often called the "teaser") should be concise and short. Depending on the content, it can consist of three to four sentences (depending on the length of the sentences). Some intranet systems automatically take over the first paragraph for article overviews. Other systems allow you to enter an abbreviated form of the first paragraph in a special field.
Do not use nested sentences consisting of several subordinate clauses, with which you may confuse the reader because he can no longer attribute the subjects and objects to the main or subordinate clauses - even if the temptation is sometimes great.
If possible, do not use any AKüs (abbreviations). The brain always needs some time to resolve them. That disrupts the flow of reading. Also, you can't be sure that all readers know the abbreviations. You can make an exception if only the appropriate experts really read your text. In any case, you should spell out the abbreviation the first time you use it.
Don't use long sentences or long paragraphs. Describe only one idea in a paragraph. If you need more than about seven to ten sentences: Break the idea down and make two or more paragraphs out of it.
Be sparing with highlighting
If you each second word highlight, then disturbs the the Reading fluency and rumored the sense of Highlighting.
Do not use passive forms:
The dog was bitten by the man
It doesn't look so bad at first.
The man bit the dog.
The second variant is better because the head doesn't have to read the end of the sentence and then go back to the object. You are using a clear sequence:
Most of the time a sentence has more than five or six words. With the active sentence order you facilitate the reading flow.
Lists give the reader an overview very quickly. Lists can
be or also
Use lists to list and explain several examples. In the case of numbered lists, give the individual points a sequence (chronologically or logically) or a priority list (make sure that "1." is given top priority). Each point in the list can be given an explanation. However, as soon as you add three or more (simple) sentences for one or more points, you should describe the list either textually with paragraphs - or ideally with headings (as I have done here in this text).
Organize your text into coherent ideas with headings. Think of headings like headlines for a (very) short chapter. So the reader knows immediately what to expect. However, don't let his expectations down.
You can also use sub-headings to subdivide longer sections below a heading. Be careful not to use more than two levels in an online article whenever possible. Otherwise you "lose" the reader, because at some point they may no longer know where they are.
Some content management systems have the option of automatically creating a table of contents. The reader immediately sees the structure of the article and can also jump directly to the corresponding heading.
With a short text, headings are hardly worthwhile. Then stick to one or more lists.
Notice the context
Pay attention to the context in which the text will appear after it is published:
- Who is the text for? Who are the target groups? (e.g. board of directors, all employees, company sports group, colleagues from the department)
- Medium (official company news site, blog article, developer forum, executive community)
- Form of presentation (e.g. news, report, essay, column)
- End devices (if, for example, many employees only read on smartphones: split the article into several)
Depending on the context, you can use a more informal language and dispense with detailed technical explanations.
At the end, pick up the reader again briefly. This will make it easier for him to recapitulate the content. This way the article will stick better in his memory.
This is also the right place to call on the reader to take action. In marketing, one speaks of call to action. You can even sell something on the intranet: Attending your seminar, attending the departmental party, subscribing to your status updates.
The writing itself
Don't make it any more complicated than necessary. You don't have to publish perfect text first, nor do you have to write your article perfectly in one go. Make it easy for yourself and do it iteratively:
- Then start writing, even with writing errors. 😉
- Structure your design with headings (or start with headings / outlines first).
- Refine the draft to a first version.
- Revise your first version, check the outline, refine the first version.
- Go back to the beginning of the text, expand it, rephrase it, check the headings ...
You can occasionally insert the grammar and spelling correction in between, but you don't have to. You should definitely do this before publishing. Read your text again in peace and quiet in its entirety and completely. Put yourself in the shoes of the reader: Are the text and structure coherent and understandable?
Depending on the scope and context of the text, ask a colleague to read it through calmly. Ask him for questions and corrections.
But to avoid misunderstandings: This article is aimed at people who want to provide more extensive content on their intranet that is permanently relevant. However, the tips are not something that you should hang up as a set of rules at the entrance of your intranet - because with them you will not achieve any higher-quality content, but no content at all, because you only deter employees with regulations and rules. The most important thing is the actual, centrally available information. It is even nicer if these are then prepared in a stringent and reader-friendly manner and contribute to more efficiency when reading. This article is intended to encourage you to do this.
When you have a few minutes left, take a look over your plate and browse my other articles on the intranet (this is my call to action) here on the blog.
Frank Hamm is a consultant for communication and collaboration and supports companies on their way to digital transformation. Since 2005 he has been writing in the INJELEA blog about social business, intranet, Enterprise 2.0 and corporate communication. Hamm is an avowed nexialist and accompanies his observations as The Writer. You can find more articles by Frank Hamm in our intranet special.
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