How to give clear instructions

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How to give clear instructions

Why is it so easy to tell someone from where to take a right or left on the road, yet in a business meeting, we give paragraphs and paragraphs of instructions?

This happens because of confidence and preparation. When you guide someone on the road, your instructions are shorter because you know that route clearly and you use a few easily comprehensive words like “Go straight” or “Turn right”. Let’s start applying this in our business meetings too. Here are a few tips:

Be precise

Instead of saying “ I was thinking that you could send this report to me by 06:00PM today if that’s fine with you.” Say “Please send this report by 06:00PM.” Don’t use too many words. The other person will get confused if you do that. You can use words like please, let’s, can you….., could you…. to make this polite. 

Incorrect: I humbly request you to open the report and go to page 12.

Correct: 1. Open the report. 2. Go to page 12.

Use sequencing words

If there are a set of instructions, you may use words like firstly, secondly, thirdly. This is done to give an order to the instructions that you give. This will also render more clarity to your instructions. For example: Firstly, open the report. Secondly, go to page 12. Lastly, look at the pie diagram.

Use the simple present tense

The only tense used to give instructions is the simple present tense. This is used for business and everyday instructions. This means that the verb does not assume -ing, -s , -es, -d, -ed form. 

Incorrect: We are opening the report.

Correct: Open the report

Why is it important to know how to give instructions

If you are in a managerial position and give unclear instructions, work might not be completed on time. You subordinates might look down upon you. Clear instructions enhance your spoken english.  They also give an impression to others that you speak English fluently. If your instructions are in an email, clear and concise instructions make your business e-mails professional.

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