Unfortunately, writing is a skill too many business people consider non-essential, which is why business writing workshops tend to be so rare. This is catastrophic in an era when writing has become the preferred method of communication between business professionals. The advent of email alone dictates that effective written communication is more important than ever, let alone the rise of social media channels.
When was the last time your organization had a business writing seminar? When was the last time you assessed the skill level of the web copy, reports, emails, marketing material and other documents your people produce?
Are there people at your organization who struggle with their writing?
Let’s face it, it’s a loaded question. The answer is, “Of course.” Writing is a skill that’s in short supply. Experience has taught us all that business professionals – regardless of their intelligence or experience – struggle with the written word.
Here’s why. Most of us were never taught how to write. Instead, we were taught a bunch of rules and regulations that turned writing into an arduous and intimidating task, one we try to avoid by procrastinating. That situation continues to vex people throughout their professional careers because most organizations neglect to include business writing seminars as part of their training regimen. In other words, no effort is made to rectify the bad writing that proliferates and tarnishes the brand at all organizations.
The result is that most business documents are impenetrable because they are loaded with jargon, clichés and common phrases that make our communication monotonous, bloated, confusing and without any marks of distinction. All of these problems are addressed and eradicated by the business writing seminars I conduct. They teach business people a broad array of writing tips, techniques and fundamentals, such as the the ABC’s of good writing, how to overcome writer’s block, how to make the written word more forceful and energetic, as well as how to write in a distinctive voice. We also participate in a host of writing exercises – such as the Madman, Architect, Carpenter, Judge method of writing – that build our productivity, creativity, accuracy and influence.
Unfortunately, writing is a skill too many business people consider non-essential, which is why business writing training sessions tend to be so rare. This is catastrophic in an era when writing has become the preferred method of communication between business professionals. The advent of email alone dictates that effective written communication is more important than ever, let alone the rise of social media channels.
If your people cannot write with clarity and impact your organization has lost the power to persuade. Over time, the mounting costs to your company in lost business can be enormous. This is how the Harvard Business Review summed it up:
Persuasion is the centerpiece of business activity. Customers must be convinced to buy your company’s products or services, employees and colleagues to go along with a new strategic plan or reorganization, investors to buy (or not to sell) your stock, and partners to sign the next deal. But despite the critical importance of persuasion, most executives struggle to communicate, let alone inspire.
-- Harvard Business Review
The fact is, writing drives all business activities, and all critical business initiatives and processes are documented in writing. If it’s done well, the odds of success tilt in your favor. If done poorly, misunderstanding and failure are the likely result.
We have also witnessed how managers and executives with the best communication skills are those who cut a sharp and rapid path to the top. Good communicators advance in their careers because their ideas are quickly understood and embraced. By contrast, the most brilliant technical and organizational ideas fail to gain traction when poorly communicated.
To write with power is to put oneself in a position to shine during (or even dominate) negotiations, discussions, sales meetings and so on.
I’ve spent my career tackling poor writing as a reporter, editor and media executive.
Now, as a writing coach, I present business writing seminars at companies looking to boost their profitability, enhance their people’s skills and offer them career development opportunities.
My business writing seminars start with how to produce effective emails and email etiquette. We discuss the building blocks of writing – words, sentences, paragraphs and their relationship to one another. Structure, storytelling and persuasion are other topics we drill. Finally, we rethink the actual writing process by using various techniques that will make your writing faster, livelier, more distinctive and less intimidating. These sessions are truly writing workshops because they lead participants through a host of practical writing exercises.
The final result is better and more effective: