My biggest secret for anyone trying to become a better writer is this:
Craft more messages from your phone.
There’s something strange that happens when we open a Word doc or draft a new email from our computers…
Suddenly we all become writers of research papers.
We write sentences that are too long.
We use too many buzzwords and too much unnecessary workplace jargon.
We agonize over sentence structure and commas and grammatical rules and exclamation points.
And what ends up happening?
We get distracted from focusing on the one thing that actually matters: The message.
Your goal should never be to write a perfectly crafted email, blog article, or LinkedIn update.
Your goal should ALWAYS be to write a message that resonates with the person you’re communicating with.
To achieve that goal, you have to write like you talk.
Don’t write a textbook. Write like you’re having a conversation with the person on the other end—because you are.
Have you ever had a really intense conversation with someone over text? You don’t care about things like grammar, you care about making your point.
So here’s my tip: the next time you need to write something important, start by drafting your message from your phone. You can always refine it from your computer later.
What’s the best way to communicate change inside an organization?
I’m reading a great book by Joep Cornelissen that outlines the 5 strategies most leadership teams use.
Here’s my summary:
1. Spray and Pray – Leadership gives employees all the details, big and small, and trusts that they will sort it out themselves and determine how it will impact their day-to-day.
2. Tell and Sell – Leadership provides employees with key messaging about a change and attempts to sell them on the approach.
3. Underscore and Explore – Leadership surfaces fundamental issues with employees and works with them to understand the implications of potential change within the organization. Communication isn’t finalized until leadership understands how people will react and can create content to address potential concerns upfront.
4. Identify and Reply – Employees have the best idea of how change will impact day-to-day operations. They bring concerns about critical issues to leaders and leaders respond in a way that provides context on the bigger picture.
5. Withhold and Uphold – Leadership avoids sharing information until the last possible moment. They assume employees can’t grasp the big picture or don’t actually need to know the why behind a change.
Which strategy does your company use?
What happens when you read your writing out loud before you hit publish or send?
You hear your own voice in the literal sense, yes, but it also allows you to do something else.
It allows you to ensure that your voice—that is, your unique personality—is actually coming through in your writing too.
Without Voice (with a capital V), anything you write becomes fairly unmemorable to your readers. All you’re doing is creating more noise. A drop in the bucket.
It’s like walking through an immense library full of seemingly identical books with no covers or titles or summaries and trying to pick one to check out and take with you.
Voice is all about humanity. It’s how you connect with readers and how they connect with you.
Facts are facts, they don’t change. But the way you share those facts can. That’s where Voice, Personality, and Style all come into play.
Not sure what your voice is or what you want it to be?
Here’s what I recommend:
Start reading everything out loud—don’t just silently go through the words in your head—take time to actually speak what you write out loud and listen to how the words sound. Listen for your message.
If it sounds boring to you, it’s going to be boring for everyone else to read.
Don’t be boring.
Early in my career, I always used to try to edit the content I was writing in real-time.
I’d write a paragraph, read it, re-write it, re-write it again, delete it, write it again.
I never understood the purpose of going back after you finish a piece of writing to revise and edit.
My FIRST version was always my FINAL version, and I took pride in never needing to go back.
It took me a long time to realize how inefficient and stifling this style of writing actually was.
I was spending all my time trying to make things perfect instead of just letting all my thoughts and ideas flow out.
I’ve since learned that there is a lot of value in producing an imperfect first draft.
There is a lot of value in allowing yourself to come back to a piece of content to evaluate it with fresh eyes.
There is a lot of value in admitting to other people that what you wrote isn’t quite there yet and inviting them to collaborate with you on the next version.
Seeking perfection on a first draft not only slows you down, it also ruins the creative process and makes it A LOT harder to produce a great message that can hit the mark.
Don’t worry about getting it right the first time. Let the ideas flow, invite others to help you refine, then come back later to polish.