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Writing

13 Resources for Writers

by Randall Craig on December 9, 2016

Filed in: Blog, Communication, Make It Happen Tipsheet, Presentations

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Do you wish that you could be more effective with the written word?   Have you always hated writing, from the first time your grade three teacher insisted you write two paragraphs on what you did during the summer?  Or maybe you enjoy the idea of writing, but you don’t enjoy the reality of writer’s block.

Written communication is core to so much: it is the expression of how one thinks and feels, the expression of an organization’s brand, and the primary mechanism to move others to commitment and action.  It is used in email,  newsletters, social media, proposals, reports, and so much more.

Here are 13 resources that can help you do better, grouped by category:

This week’s action plan:  This week, re-look at your writing:  how might you make it just a bit more effective?

Communications insight:  While writing is the basis of writing, it is also the basis of doing an excellent presentation.  This shouldn’t be a surprise, as critical and creative thinking underlie both: if you write well, you’ve probably done your thinking first.  (Test yourself: use these same ideas as you put together your next presentation.)

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to www.RandallCraig.com to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)
www.RandallCraig.com
:  Professional credentials site

www.108ideaspace.com: Web strategy, technology, and design
www.ProfessionallySpeakingTV.com
:  Interviews with the nation’s thought-leaders

 

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As a speaker or writer, one of the most powerful techniques is to look for common cause with your audience.  This may mean using words or imagery that conjure up something from a shared past, or play to a shared cultural experience.

Unfortunately, this very same technique is unwittingly used to the exact opposite effect: it excludes.  And when someone feels excluded, at best the remainder of your message will never resonate. At worst, they may disqualify both you and your organization from consideration.

It is very easy to fall into the uniformity trap: just because everyone “looks” the same, we assume that we share a common background with them. This is especially true when we speak.  To a Hindu, Muslim, or Jew, Merry Christmas defines them as outsiders.  Or, to women, a term such as Chairman automatically erect a glass ceiling. Simple alternatives such as Happy Holidays and Chair are far more inclusive, and easy to incorporate. The goal is not to be politically correct, but rather, to engage your audience instead of alienating them.

When interacting with someone whose primary language isn’t English, the problem is even more basic: lack of fluency itself may be exclusionary.  If we are the ones that seek to be understood, how might we change our communication practices?

  • Enunciate each word clearly and slightly more slowly;
  • Skip complex grammatical constructions, words, idioms, and jargon.
  • Look for signs that they understand, and are actively listening
  • Summarize without appearing patronizing
  • Follow up with a written note, so they can look up words without losing face

This week’s action plan: Whether you are speaking to an audience of 1000, a group of 5, or are writing an email, blog post, or report, the goal is to effectively get buy-in to your ideas.  And to do this means including the message recipient – not excluding them.  This week, don’t assume that everyone has precisely your background: double-check your words to make sure they resonate with everyone.

Counterpoint:  Must you really avoid wishing someone Merry Christmas, instead substituting the relatively toothless “Happy Holidays?”  There is absolutely nothing wrong with wishing someone Merry Christmas, when you know that the recipient is a celebrant of Christmas.  But what if the person may not celebrate Christmas, or might even be offended by the phrase?  Or you are speaking or writing to a diverse audience?  This is where judgment comes in: it is the balance between connecting through shared experience (Christmas) vs. the downside of making others feel excluded.

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to www.RandallCraig.com to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)
www.RandallCraig.com
:  Professional credentials site

www.108ideaspace.com: Web strategy, technology, and design
www.ProfessionallySpeakingTV.com
:  Interviews with the nation’s thought-leaders

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