My pleasure! One of our most-requested seminars is Biz Writing: Add Power to Your Words @ Work. The room fills with laughter as we read examples of real-life email gone wrong (names changed to protect the guilty, of course) and rounds of applause when a writer gets it right.
Rudyard Kipling said, “Words are the most powerful drug used by mankind.” Your written words create an impression of your intelligence, ability and knowledge of a topic. Invest a few extra minutes per email to hone your message and improve your reputation. You want readers to prioritize and act on your email. So, put READER UNDERSTANDING first and:
Lose the gender, age and all group-biased language. I’ve discarded lots of resumes with cover letters that begin “Dear Mr. Gladieux…” Leave out most attempts at humor and all attempts at sarcasm. They don’t play well with readers, and it’s your name at the top.
Write with brevity in mind. Pretend you earn $1 with each irrelevant word cut. Shorter is always better if there’s no loss in meaning. This column is one example. I revised multiple times to find the most succinct ways to make a point. And this is why “easy reading is damned hard writing.” (Anonymous)
Define jargon. Explain it right off the bat, then go ahead with acronyms. I almost sent “GC created T&D events for SZ” yesterday. It’s clear to me what that means – “Gladieux Consulting created training and development events for SubZero”. If you don’t re-read before hitting send, you leave some readers in the dark. In business, the best writers focus on how the message recipient will receive their words. Please save us time, make it interesting and make it short.
Commit to your reason for writing. Vague expressions (sort of, somewhat, maybe) detract from your credibility. Think about the tone you want to project (excited? disappointed? instructive? encouraging?) and edit to achieve it. Mark Twain put it like this: “the difference between the right word and almost right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug.”
Spelling and grammar count. We make decisions about your IQ based on both.
I wish you snappy subject lines, a talented friend as an editor when you need one, a blank space between main points, no more cc:ing than absolutely necessary and more opportunities to write.
Stephen King says: “If you want to be a writer, do two things above all others: READ a lot and WRITE a lot. There’s no way around these that I’m aware of, no shortcut.” Why not build your writing muscles today with a sincere and well-written note of praise to a customer, boss, co-worker or employee? If you’d like my input on how your note reads, send it to me for comments.
Are you (or is “a friend”) dealing with a career or communication challenge?
If you’ve got a question, write to Michelle@GladieuxConsulting.com for publication consideration.
(Questions remain confidential and anonymous.)