Thursday, December 07, 2006

11 Ways to Improve Your Writing and Your Business

In compiling the secrets of success from some of Canada’s best entrepreneurs for my 1997 book, Secrets of Success from Canada’s Fastest-Growing Companies, I realized that many of the attributes of great entrepreneurs – from great marketing skills to planning and HR smarts – stem from old-fashioned communication skills. I’ve been a proponent of strong writing and communication skills ever since.

So I was delighted to find the following article from the Minnesota-based Roberts Group: 11 Ways to Improve Your Writing and Your Business.

Here are the 11 points: feel free to click here for the whole story.

1. Begin with one grain of sand.
2. Give the who, what, when, where, and why.
3. Step up to bat and take a few swings.
4. Adopt a plain writing style.
5. Keep it short.
6. Give the reader a map.
7. Be active.
8. Cut unneeded words and prune windy phrases.
9. Watch out for these four commonly misused words.
10. Stress benefits, not features.
11. Give your writing the conversation test.

Why does simple, clear writing matter? Because your employees spend more time trying to decipher poorly written reports and memos than they spend reading well-written documents. Because employers and customers shun job-seekers and marketers who don't communicate clearly. And, as author Sherry Roberts says, because “People won't buy what they don't understand.

Here’s how you get started.

1. Begin with one grain of sand: Before you start to write any business document, identify the single idea you're trying to get across. Jot it down in one sentence on a note pad next to your keyboard. If you were writing a news story, this would be the headline.

Here are some examples:
You want an appointment to explain your new product. (sales letter)
Using computers to track inventory will save thousands of dollars. (report)
The janitorial crew will be working new hours. (memo)

Your one-line synopsis is a grain of sand; it will help you begin. Large projects can be built from it, but the grain of sand itself is neither overwhelming nor intimidating.

As you write, reread your one-line reminder. It will keep you grounded, focused, on target. Know what you want before you begin to write, and the writing will come more easily.

Get the whole story at

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