MBA

Communicating with Impact

PART 1

Discussion of written Communications excellence

A good writing communication is all about readers and the experience it provides them. It is supposed to set a clear key message and answer the questions the audience might have.  The communication purposes are various. Depending on the audience, the goal of the communication can be explaining, conveying an information, influencing, requesting or delivering a news. Consequently, the delivered message must always be audience-focused, and the writing style should also be in terms that the reader will understand. Larry Page’s letter announcing the creation of Alphabet Inc. is a good example of good communication style.

I have always been fascinated by Google whom I consider a non-conventional and innovative company. They developed and/or acquired pioneer applications and solutions in multiple domains. Search engine and advertising were Google’s main activities, but they rapidly extended their activities to streaming, web browsers, mobile activity, robotics and health. On October 2, 2015 Alphabet Inc. was created through a corporate restructuring of Google and became the parent company of Google and several former Google subsidiaries. The two founders of Google assumed executive roles in the new company, with Larry Page serving as CEO and Sergey Brin as president[1].To communicate over Alphabet Inc., the company created a single page website based on Larry Page’s public announcement letter.

Larry started his announcement of a change letter using a fascinating story about Google and their products. This general introduction is crucial because this announcement letter is addressed to a large public who might have no idea about the company and its history. Starting by the general ideas before introducing the main subject is an appropriate writing strategy (general-to-specific) in this kind of situation when the audience is public and not specialized. This introduction represents approximately 20% of the letter and it gives the reader a clear idea about the background of Google and its multiple products and creations. It also describes Google CEO values and vision. I think that Larry’s readers may be unreceptive to this change, that is why he positioned his key message strategically to get the best chance of being read and considered.

In the following paragraphs, the purpose of his announcement was introduced and explained clearly to the audience: The creation of a new company named Alphabet. This transition was important to qualify this writing as excellent in terms of communication. Larry gave a first global insight about google before introducing the change he, and Sergey have made and thus, include the public to the decision-making process which lead to the creation of Alphabet Inc.

In this paper, I will analyze his writing’s structure but prior to that, I would like to point the sentences shortness and the active voice used. Globally each paragraph focuses on one or two ideas. The longest one is about the structure of Alphabet Inc. This part of the announcement needed more attention because it’s about the biggest change Larry is operating on Google Inc. Through this announcement, the author interacts with the audience by asking questions, exposing his ideas and showing his excitement about the upcoming change.

Alphabet’s CEO did not fall in the trap of telling the story of what happened instead, he talked about what he learned. He took the necessary time to explain the writing purpose and the reasons behind the change and incidentally he answered the “why’ question. The document explains exactly why the creation of the new company is important in terms that the reader will understand. For example, he writes: “Alphabet is about businesses prospering through strong leaders and independence. In general, our model is to have a strong CEO who runs each business, […] This new structure will allow us to keep tremendous focus on the extraordinary opportunities we have inside of Google. […] Alphabet Inc. will replace Google Inc. as the publicly-traded entity and all shares of Google will automatically convert into the same number of shares of Alphabet, with all of the same rights.” (L. Page, 1995)[2]

According to Lee Clark Johns, “Writers often confuse their business purpose (or the problem to be solved) with their writing purpose. The business purpose is the issue they are addressing; the writing purpose is why they are writing the document. If they focus only on the business purpose, they easily fall into the trap of telling the story of what happened. Readers usually want to know what you learned, not what you did. »(L, Johns, 2004)[3]. Here, Larry Page used an efficient method to reach the audience. Furthermore, I think that the bottom line message is efficiently isolated and refined in order to be remembered by the readers. To be sure, I asked several persons to read this announcement et and give me their feedbacks. I was incredibly surprised to notice that they approximately understood and remembered the same points I did.

The structure of this public announcement letter seduces the readers to keep reading. The visual structure is based on well-designed short paragraphs with plenty of white space. The story telling entices the audience and the take away messages at the end are easy to identify. The messages are listed using bulleted lists. In addition, Larry uses the bold typeface to help the readers process the document when he talks about “alpha‑bet”. He also uses smooth transitions to help the audience see the linkage between ideas and the development of the argumentation. To illustrate this point, we can notice it in the following examples:

  • and we’ll determine their compensation. In addition, with this new structure we plan to implement …”
  • “hopefully… as a result of all this, improving the lives of as many people as we can.” 

In addition, this letter is well designed for the web readers. The text is positioned on the page left side to deal with the F-Shaped Pattern of Reading on the Web. The F-Pattern describes the most common user eye-scanning patterns when it comes to blocks of content[4].

Finally, I think that Larry was successful when his created this well-designed visual structure which is essential for his announcement of change letter. He created an interesting visual impact because the letter is easy to read and key points are clearly noticeable.

Writers can transmit through writing a variety of emotions, from enthusiastic to critical. These emotions create connections and build a relationship between the audience and the text. To motivate these connections, writers convey their positions and thoughts through convenient devices, such as word choice, punctuation, and formal or informal language. Based on that, the tone of this letter impacts positively how the readers view what Google CEO is talking about. He chose an informal and playful tone in order to create a sense of rapport with his readers by using incomplete sentences, contractions, specific words and the first person. To illustrate that we can focus on the following examples: “What is Alphabet? Alphabet is mostly a collection of companies”, “What could be better? No wonder we are excited to get to work”, “I’ve been tremendously enjoying our work together”.

         Using active voice in writing includes many benefits. It highlights the business orientation of action and identifies the person accountable of it. Furthermore, writing in the active voice produces generally sentences with fewer words. Google’s CEO, adapted successfully this technic in his letter. (In general, our model is to have a strong CEO who runs each business…)

To my opinion, Larry Page announcement letter, is a good example of an excellent Written Communication. The document is easy to read thanks to its truthful structure, the use of the active voice, the general-to-specific writing strategy, the interaction with the reader and finally the clear purpose presented at the beginning and detailed throughout the text. The letter ends with a strong call to action and a refined sense of humor which can have a positive impact on the readers.

PART 2

Your analysis of your writing style, the structures and supports used in your writing

   My writing style!

I have always considered writing as the best mean to express myself and share my experiences and thoughts with others. First, I wrote in Arabic then I adopted the French language. Sometimes, I would also try to express myself in English but then I realized it’s, not my cup of tea. Since 2006, I regularly publish texts and articles on my personal blog.1 I am deeply convinced that sharing my thoughts and my feelings with my readers brings me satisfaction and somehow, makes my life easier. Sometimes, my texts are just a way for me to express how I feel, a thought that I have, a scene I observed of any common situation that I try to share with my readers.  Often my articles do not serve a purpose but are the result of an emotion, a though and through my blog I wand to share it.

Analyzing my own writing style is incredibly interesting. It’s like the first time you look at the mirror and you discover yourself. I picked randomly some texts from my blog in order to compare them and learn more about my style. The finding is surprising because the texts have globally the same traits even if their contents are completely different:

  1. All the texts start with a specific word or a short sentence. For me this the main hook for the rest of the article;
  2. Each text is illustrated with a picture;
  3. The sentences are tiny and composed of simple words;
  4. The paragraphs are short with plenty of white spaces;
  5. I use a lot of punctuation;
  6. Each reader can read my text differently. The reader can imagine the context based on the few situational elements described on the texts;
  7. Each text explains an idea based on a specific situation.

Thanks to this exercise, I view my texts differently and I am aware of my writing technics and style. Indeed, I realize that my writing style reflect how I think and express myself; that is, I am very concise and brief. My sentences are short and always articulated around a single subject.  From the title of the text, I set the décor for the story I will be narrating.  I also keep some sentences vague and punctuated so that I make my reader a part of the story. One, as they read, my texts, can identify and understand the story using their own background and feelings which ultimately makes the reader ‘feel’ my texts.

References

Babich, N. (2017) F-Shaped Pattern for Reading Content. UX Planet. Retrieved from: https://uxplanet.org/f-shaped-pattern-for-reading-content-80af79cd3394

Boukoutaya, M. (2018) Boukou Délire. Retrieved from: http://blog.icaredesign.com/

Johns, L.C. (2004) The Writing Coach. Thomson: New York.

Page, L. (1995) Alphabet Inc.: Letter of Announcement. Retrieved from:  https://abc.xyz/

Pernice, K. (2017) F-Shaped Pattern of Reading on the Web: Misunderstood, But Still Relevant (Even on Mobile). Nielsen Norman Group. Retrieved from: https://www.nngroup.com/articles/f-shaped-pattern-reading-web-content/

Womak, B. (2015, August 10). Google Rises After Creating Holding Company Called Alphabet. Bloomberg, retrieved from https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-08-10/google-to-adopt-new-holding-structure-under-name-alphabet-


[1]  Womak, B. (2015, August 10). Google Rises After Creating Holding Company Called Alphabet. Bloomberg, retrieved from https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-08-10/google-to-adopt-new-holding-structure-under-name-alphabet-

[2] Page, L. (1995) Alphabet Inc.: Letter of Announcement. Retrieved from:  https://abc.xyz/

[3] Johns, L.C. (2004) The Writing Coach. Thomson: New York.

[4] Pernice, K. (2017) F-Shaped Pattern of Reading on the Web: Misunderstood, But Still Relevant (Even on Mobile). Nielsen Norman Group. Retrieved from: https://www.nngroup.com/articles/f-shaped-pattern-reading-web-content/

Mohammed Boukoutaya passionné du web, Directeur de projet, spécialisé en innovation, solutions Web et mobilité entreprise. Fondateur des sites : RabatKid.com, Maroc-trip.com, jeveuxsortir.com, SortirauMaroc.com et YallaCine.com.

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