This month’s article is dedicated to the Clear Writing workshop participants.
It is always a pleasure to deliver learning material on topics that are relevant, timely, and useful. Many thanks to the Centre for Education and Training for inviting me to deliver Clear Writing workshops. I learned early in my change management work that clear communications is the cornerstone to informing, influencing, and inspiring action. Here are six timeless strategies that will help you write with impact every time.
Strategy #1: Know your audience. Often, messages are written from the sender’s perspective. If you want to be heard, make your messages “receiver friendly”. Identify who your audience is, and what they need to know. You can then identify key points, and the overall tone of your message.
Strategy #2: Know your point. Sometimes, messages get lost in details. To identify the main theme of your message, do the ‘elevator test’ – imagine that you need to explain your topic in the span of a 30-second elevator ride. What would you say? This is most likely your main theme.
Strategy #3: Create an outline. An outline is like the frame for a building. It can support your message by helping you identify what information to include and the best order in which to present concepts. Your outline – or frame – provides the needed structure to transform information into understandable content.
Strategy #4: Use clear language. Longer, more obscure words and jargon confuse the message and “lose” the reader. Using short sentences, the active voice, and common, everyday words are just a few techniques that will help your audience understand your message the first time they read it.
Strategy #5: Use simple graphics. A well laid out document with short paragraphs is always more ‘readable’ than an essay style document with dense text. Use headings, bullet points, charts, callout boxes and other simple graphics to make your document inviting to read and easy to understand.
Strategy #6: Proofread your work. As the writer, your brain has the ability to “see” what you meant to write, rather than what you’ve actually written. To produce unblemished copy, proofread your work several times and in different sittings, or ask a colleague to review your work.
Enjoy the writing experience!