Doesn’t this sound obvious – if you want to get an idea across then you need to explain it clearly.
Writing clearly is important if you want to get a result by doing the writing, but it is not easy to do properly.
I have spent years in the corporate world writing
- Proposals for projects
- Proposals for the money to fund those projects
- Presentations to get agreement from a Company Board or a committee
- Presentations to show the progress on a project
- Presentations telling people something they didn’t want to hear.
Without wanting to blow my own trumpet many of these proposals and reports were to very high up Executives in Global organisations. One slip up and you were not Mr Popular believe me.
What has this got to do with writing clearly you say?
Well the lessons I learned through experience over a number of years of standing up on your own to give a presentation I think are just as applicable now when I am trying to write a blog article or setting up a web page where I am trying to achieve something – and that is not always to sell something, just to get an idea across.
So what did I learn.
- Know your subject – If I had one piece of advice it would be this. Don’t write about what you don’t know. People will immediately question what you are saying and you are then lost, or in the case of the blog, the reader leaves never to return.
- If you don’t know enough then find out about it. With the web at our finger tips we have an enormous knowledge bank available to us – use it. It never ceases to amaze me the ease with which you can get information on topics these days, but if you don’t go looking you won’t find it.
- KISS – the second most valuable piece of advice I can give you from my corporate days. Keep it simple stupid. In writing the KISS means explain your topic simply – this is an extension of KISS. Don’t assume everyone is as clever as you and lives in the thinking stratosphere, because most like me don’t. Especially if you are addressing a topic on the web make sure you can be understood by everyone. I have been in team meetings where the highest paid execs have failed to solve a problem and the post clerk who is doing a very menial, but vital task all day comes up with the solution – if this isn’t a lesson in simplicity what else could be.
- Find different ways of looking at things. When you write up an idea don’t assume everyone will look at it the same way. This is a lesson which took me long time to learn but it is true. My Granddaughter is not a genius at maths (God bless her), but she is good at art. The way she was being taught at school meant nothing to her and she hated the subject with a vengeance. To be honest it wouldn’t have meant much to me at her age either. So we sat down one afternoon and worked together until she understood the maths. A lot of coasters were involved as we painted a different picture for her to learn her maths. She then understood and still uses those mental pictures which are very different to what she was being shown at school. In your writing include ways of looking at the topic which are different so that a broader audience will understand you – give examples where ever you can, and use images.
- Finally – don’t make it too long. Presentations are better when short, simple, and presented in an informal way (if you know your subject this will be easy) The same goes for writing – don’t write a book because no one has time for it these days – make it short, simple and straight to the point.
Some tips to write clearly.
So if you are going to write clearly, we suggest the following tips – make it clear by:
- Knowing the key and only the key points to make – if you know your subject well this will be easy.
- Keep it simple and explain it simply.
- Find ways of engaging your reader by use of examples and images.
- Don’t make it too long.
Was this article written clearly enough for you?
Yours in business writing,
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