Research has found that if a manual or piece of training material is written in a non-authoritative style, the reader will likely not trust what has been written and often abandon what they are reading.
This is why writing with power and authority is essential when you’re putting together your SOP manual. The reader needs to feel, from the outset, that they are looking at materials that are factually accurate, well-researched and written by someone who is a specialist in their field. The tone of the writing is also extremely important – it should use standard phrases that follow the writing conventions of your industry, and you should consider the shared knowledge of your reader.
Have a look at the journals and authoritative published papers that are related to your field. You will notice that they often use professional standard phrases that are specific for the industry. For instance, in the medical field, you may find standard phrases such as, “Let us examine the case of…” or “There was a significant positive correlation between…” Pay attention to the details, use standard phrases and follow your style guide carefully. If you haven’t already got a style guide, it will be helpful to consult an appropriate one for your field so that you’re always consistent with the writing conventions that you use.
For an SOP manual to be truly authoritative, it must be well researched, and this must be demonstrated to the reader. If you want procedures in your workplace to be done a certain way, then it is essential to show why, based on previous studies. For instance, if you want your staff to disinfect the workspace once every hour, present them with a piece of research that demonstrates why cleaning this often has been shown to reduce the spread of germs and bacteria by a significant percentage.
There needs to be a justifiable reason for this procedure, and your information needs to be reliable, citing recognized, credible sources. Be careful however, of including too many citations within your SOP manual, as this can sometimes come across as the writer having a lack of in-depth knowledge.
For every point that you make in your SOP manual, consider the kinds of questions that the reader is going to ask. You should make sure that you are specific and detailed, as you are creating a definitive guide for your workplace. The spelling and grammar needs to be perfect, or the document will look unprofessional.
Always review your writing and run it through a grammar checker to make sure that every sentence is accurate and legible – if it’s too heavy with buzz words or jargon, it will become unreadable. Good authoritative writing should make the reader want to take action and responsibility in the workplace, and this will ensure that your standard operating procedures are followed every day.
Writing in a powerful and authoritative manner will give your SOP manual importance and gravitas, which will encourage readers to follow what is written. Do your research, be thorough in your explanations, and follow a style guide that is specific to your industry and your SOP Manual will be more authoritative.