Learn how to make it clear quickly in publications, briefings, and pitches
Bad things happen to good people when they start to write
It’s hard to write well. Most business writers admit that they’d like to write more clearly, and get their message across more quickly.
But bad things happen to good people when they start to write. Sit a persuasive talker down at a keyboard and they’ll probably switch to over-formal language, lots of business-speak words, and long sentences. They’ll almost definitely forget to stop and think about what their reader wants to know first.
A little training can give people clear-writing habits
Business writers write the way they do because they’ve picked up writing habits (from school, university, and their employers) that get in the way of clear writing.
These habits tend to make writing hard to read quickly and bury key points (often in a ‘conclusion’ that comes at the end).
The trick is to recognise that you have these habits, and learn some new ones.
How the writing training works and what it will do
a) Bespoke training that uses text from your documents
I usually create bespoke training-materials for clients. The workbooks and hints-and-tips sheets will use examples from your firm’s updates, reports, and pitches.
Most clients opt for half-day training sessions with 6-8 attendees, but courses can be shorter or longer, and have more or fewer attendees. I also do one-to-one coaching where I give feedback on writers’ in-progress work.
b) Write for the reader, substantiate claims, and spell out benefits
The training gives you a reminder of first principles. You’ll get into the habit of thinking about who the reader is, what they want to know (as opposed to what you want to write about), and the order that they need, or want, to know it in.
You’ll also learn how to break the business-writing habit of making unsubstantiated claims (‘the team has extensive experience’). You’ll evolve into a writer who backs up claims with facts, and spells out the benefits of your firm’s experience and skills.
c) Clear structure: main message first – no ‘conclusion’ at the end
We’re trained at school, university (and often at work), to put the conclusion at the end. My writing training will show you how to break out of the traditional essay structure (introduction, facts, pros-and-cons, conclusion). You’ll see how much clearer your writing is when you put the most important points first – the ‘front loaded’ approach.
d) Clear language: short and direct sentences, fewer abstract nouns
The language part of the training will help you write documents that are easy to read quickly, and don’t leave questions hanging in the reader’s mind.
You’ll never write a sentence like this again:
‘The report will be delivered at the end of the primary stage.’
(Who will deliver the report? When is the end of the primary stage?)
You’ll get you into the habit of writing:
‘We will deliver the report by 31 August. The report will sum up everything we’ve learnt in the first project stage, and explain what needs to happen next.’
(Yes, sometimes you do need to use more words to make things clear.)
You’ll also learn how to:
- Use active verbs to bring your writing to life, and shorten your sentences.
- Get into the habit of using bold-text subheadings that are a whole thought. They show clients where you’re going and help people skim-read your documents.
- Convince clients that your team has the right experience and processes for the job.
What the writing training won’t do
Here’s the bad news. Well, only if you’re planning to get started on that novel… Our writing training will not:
- Help you develop a beautiful writing style that’ll make the literati swoon, and have publishers beating a path to your door.
- Kit you out with expert knowledge on grammatical exotica like gerunds and case-triggered declensions.
- Fix your problems with spelling and punctuation.