I’m starting to notice that good writing skills are quickly becoming a thing of the past. It’s been a while since I’ve been in school, but I can only assume that, while writing plays a big part in earning a business degree, writing is not graded or critiqued in and of itself. And that’s a crying shame, because with great communication comes great power!
People who write well are more promotable, more hireable, and more successful than those who cannot. So it behooves you (yes, that’s really a word) to up the ante when it comes to your writing. Here are some great tips to help you get a leg up on written communication:
Keep your language simple – Beefing up your words and sounding scholarly may be your instinct when you put together a memo, but in reality that will only trip you up while you’re writing it, and trip your readers up while they’re reading it. Write your memo the way you would say it, in simple language.
Brevity is power – And I’m talking Hemmingway brevity. If you’ve written “this is an event our company has done over and over again for the last twenty years,” consider calling it a “traditional event” instead. Rambling is something done by the nervous and the weak, even if it’s on paper. If you’re a fan of Star Trek, you know that Jean Luc Picard doesn’t say, “If you could point the Enterprise in that direction and use our blasters to eliminate those aliens.” He says things like, “Engage!” and “Make it so.” He’s a powerful guy and an exemplary leader. Say less with stronger words.
Stay away from useless words – Words like “just” or “really” don’t add much to a communication. They’re fillers. Stay away from them, and words like them! For a great list, check out this article from Entrepreneur.
Avoid jargon – Jargon and acronyms are for people who want to look like they’re communicating but really aren’t saying anything substantial. The same way you block out a politician who’s using words like “politics of change,” people are mentally shutting down when you use “strategic healthcare solution.” What is a strategic healthcare solution, anyway? If you want to say something, give it some meat and leave the jargon for another time.
Remember the call to action – Don’t write something to your co-workers if you’re not going to convey to them how they should use the information you’re giving them. If you’re telling them the cafeteria is closed at 12:00 for a private event, include a line that tells the group to go down and get their lunches by 11:30. Underline it and make it red.
These are just a few hints that will help you write a better communication. Remember, some people are born to write and others struggle with it their whole lives, but everyone has the ability to improve on these simple communication points!
Next Post: Wednesday, July 30