Think Like Your Reader

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By on May 30, 2013 in Leadership with 3 Comments

A few years ago, my wife worked for a small software company. For several months after the economy’s initial tumble in late 2008, her business struggled to stay afloat, and the entire staff knew that without new investment money the company would dissolve and everyone would be out of a job.

So imagine what the employees thought when they read this subject line in an email sent by the CEO to the whole company:

From: CEO

To: All Employees

Subject: Closed.

The employees thought what you’re probably thinking — bad news. So they were shocked when they opened and read the email. Turns out, the CEO was enthusiastically announcing that a new investor had acquired the company. It was this company-saving deal that had “closed.” Not the company itself. Phew!

The point is, the CEO’s email subject could have given any of his employees a cardiac event. Had he simply stopped to consider how they might read it — that the day they dreaded had finally come, and the business was shutting down — he might have used a different subject line. Maybe something like, “Great news on the financing front!”

Always try to think like your readers when you write. The more you can see things from their point of view, the more effective your writing will be.

© 2018 Robbie Hyman. All rights reserved. This article may not be reproduced without express written consent from Robbie Hyman.


About the Author

Robbie Hyman is a professional communications and public affairs writer. He has 15 years’ experience writing for nonprofits, small business and multibillion-dollar international organizations and is available as a freelance writer for federal agencies.

Robbie has written thousands of pages of content, including white papers, speeches, published articles, reports, manuals, newsletters, video scripts, advertisements, technical document and other materials. He is also co-founder of, an online course that teaches smart money habits to teenagers.