On recent Focus is Your Friend Podcast, (listen here), I had a great conversation about communication with Kevin Craine, a professional writer and editor, as well as an award-winning podcast producer. I was interviewed for his popular Everyday MBA podcast recently to talk about The Boomerang Principle (have you heard I have a book coming out!).
Kevin and I talked at length about the power of good writing in business, when he said “Good Writing is Good Business.” And while I will give him attribution, I’m going to take that and run, because in five words he said what every business leader knows – the better the writing in your business, the better your business. The stronger your communication, the less frequent confusion, and the more likely people will be to act.
5 ways to make your writing, and your business, stronger:
- Think before you write. The best writing conveys a thought — what you want to communicate — with conviction to a specific audience. Answers the questions “what does my reader need to know about what I’m about to write?” What’s the “who, what, where, when, how about what I’m trying to convey?” When you have these answers, now you can put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard.
- Business Writing is expository writing, not a wandering story that takes your reader though the highs and lows of a character who will go through anguish before she wins the war. Be direct. Put your main point in the first paragraph. Use supporting points below your main point. Remember that your reader may be reading your work on their phone. Don’t make them thumb down multiple times to get to the point. Communicate with conviction!
- Use the active voice in all business communication. After you’ve written your first draft search for “There are” and “it is” and “by” and change those sentences from passive voice, where the action is performed upon the sentence subject, to active voice, where the sentence subject performs the action. If you need some refresher exercises, page through Purdue’s Online Writing Lab.
- Don’t use 5 words when you can use 2 or 2 when 1 will do. For instance instead of “a total of 22 dogs,” write “22 dogs;” instead of “cooperate together” use “cooperate;” instead of “in spite of the fact that” use “although.” Be diligent in cutting as much “fat” from your writing, so that you convey what you mean in as few words as possible.
- Don’t Use Jargon. Resist the urge to use acronyms and jargon in all communication. 1: jargon, by definition, is not universally understood by your readers; 2: jargon obfuscates your communication and your purpose. Leave the jargon for your next buzzword bingo game whilst listening to an unprepared speaker. Really, I mean it, stop using jargon.
Good writing is good business because it’s a clear and compelling compelling and moves people to act. Good writing reduces confusion by providing everything you need to know when you need to know it in an easy to find and easy to read fashion. And those companies that prize good writing have more success than those that don’t.
*This post is updated from an original article posted on my LinkedIn page.