Be A Better Writer

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Selected slides from my writing improvement seminar.

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  • Improving Written Business Communications Leadership 2.0
  • Improving Written Business Communications Leadership 2.0 [SAY] As a writer, this fact has worked well for me. One of the reasons that writing well is important is that, many times, your first impression is made via your writing. Lowell Thomas: an American writer, broadcaster.
  • Improving Written Business Communications Leadership 2.0 [SAY] Writing is a marker … [CLICK] Review bullets
  • Improving Written Business Communications Leadership 2.0 [SAY] Background about Canton Forum What would your reaction be to this letter? What do you think of the writer? Of the organization? What do you think the writer thinks that you think about her writing?
  • Improving Written Business Communications Leadership 2.0 [SAY] Even good writers can be better writers. By the end of this session, you’ll be a better writer than you were when we started.
  • Improving Written Business Communications Leadership 2.0
  • Improving Written Business Communications Leadership 2.0
  • Improving Written Business Communications Leadership 2.0
  • Improving Written Business Communications Leadership 2.0 [SAY] Teaching a class. Guy started to laugh. Carries a list of his boss’ best stupid sayings. The first rule of being correct is to use the right words. If you aren’t sure, look it up before you say something that ends up in my presentation.
  • Improving Written Business Communications Leadership 2.0 [SAY] You will pick up some tips in this course about how to write correctly, but right now we’re going to talk about ways to make sure that you’re writing is correct.
  • Improving Written Business Communications Leadership 2.0 [SAY] There are lots of ways you can proofread your writing. [CLICK] Out loud forces you to slow down and not skip things [CLICK] With a finger does the same thing. You need to print it out , which is also good. You will catch different things in print than on the screen. [CLICK] Let it simmer and check it later ... Different things will pop out at you. [CLICK] Backwards won’t catch flow and structure problems, but you will catch errors like this. None of these will catch mistakes that you don’t know are mistakes. [CLICK] Have someone else read it. They will catch mistakes. If you can find a good writer, they can help you become better. And good writers love editing other people’s work. (NGK story)
  • Improving Written Business Communications Leadership 2.0 Getting to the point.
  • Improving Written Business Communications Leadership 2.0 Zinser is pretty well known writer about writing.
  • Improving Written Business Communications Leadership 2.0 Remember that most people are in a state of continual partial attention . They are probably reading your email while they are on the phone … or from the Blackberry in the back row of a class like this.
  • Improving Written Business Communications Leadership 2.0 More words let’s your meaning escape With less words, you should be able to sharpen your meanings
  • Improving Written Business Communications Leadership 2.0 Two books about transformational change. One deals with theory in great detail, the other tells a story. Leading Change: College level reading, 200 dense pages / Who Moved My Cheese: high school reading, 94 pages Better to communicate a simple message that is clearly and widely received, than a complex message that is not received.
  • Improving Written Business Communications Leadership 2.0 Now we’re going to talk about to write in a way that people will find interesting. They will WANT to read what you wrote.
  • Improving Written Business Communications Leadership 2.0 [CLICK - sub bullet] The style of writing depends on many things. Different audiences, formats and purposes call for different styles of writing. [CLICK] We will touch on a few style fundamentals.
  • Improving Written Business Communications Leadership 2.0 BIG IDEA The key to more active writing is to use the active voice. We have to make a small detour to the nuts and bolts of writing so I can explain active voice. When you write in the active voice, you follow this sentence structure. [CLICK] [CLICK]
  • Improving Written Business Communications Leadership 2.0 So ... What’s the opposite of active voice? Passive, where something happens to the subject of the sentence. This is one of the top things I hope you walk away with today. This is a simple rule that you can almost always apply, and one that will always improve your writing.
  • Improving Written Business Communications Leadership 2.0 Everything we’ve talked about so far will improve the clarity of your writing. Now we’re going to talk specifically about how to organize what you write to make sure it’s as clear as possible … that your messages will get through.
  • Improving Written Business Communications Leadership 2.0 For important written communication, consider starting with a communication plan. This is my first step in any writing project, whether it’s for a brochure, video script or direct mail letter. I always prepare a plan, then review it with the folks who will approve the final document. [CLICK] all steps
  • Basic journalism concept. If they get bored, they still get your main point. Improving Written Business Communications Leadership 2.0
  • Improving Written Business Communications Leadership 2.0 I hope you learned a lot today about writing … but I only scratched the surface. I want to show you some places you can go for help with your writing in the future.
  • Improving Written Business Communications Leadership 2.0
  • Improving Written Business Communications Leadership 2.0 Ask about podcasts. She cites multiple references, and they usually don’t agree. Do what sounds most natural. Say it out loud.
  • Improving Written Business Communications Leadership 2.0
  • Improving Written Business Communications Leadership 2.0
  • Be A Better Writer

    1. 1. Be a Better Writer Improving Written Workplace Communication 3/1/2010 Be A Better Writer
    2. 2. 3/1/2010 Be A Better Writer “ Make thyself a craftsman in speech, and thereby thou shall gain the upper hand.” – Egyptian tomb inscription The Value of Writing Well
    3. 3. The Value of Writing Well <ul><li>Writing is a &quot;marker&quot; for people who are more intelligent, more promotable and more valuable* </li></ul><ul><li>An Office Team survey of 150 senior executives showed that 84% said it takes just 1 or 2 typos to remove a candidate from consideration for a job </li></ul>*National Commission on Writing Be A Better Writer 3/1/2010
    4. 4. The Pain of Poor Writing “… Amy asked that you be sent the attached checklist so that you can avail yourself of impertinent information regarding the engagement of a speaker.” Be A Better Writer 3/1/2010
    5. 5. How Good a Writer Are You? <ul><li>What kind of impression are you making? </li></ul><ul><li>Could you recognize your shortcomings as a writer? </li></ul>Be A Better Writer 3/1/2010
    6. 6. What We’ll Cover <ul><li>The Four C’s </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Correct </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Concise </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Compelling </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Clear </li></ul></ul>Be A Better Writer 3/1/2010
    7. 7. What We’ll Cover <ul><li>If you didn’t learn it in elementary school … you won’t learn it today </li></ul><ul><li>If you have the fundamentals, you WILL be a better writer </li></ul>HELP! Be A Better Writer 3/1/2010
    8. 8. Correct: The Write Word 3/1/2010 Be A Better Writer
    9. 9. The Meaning Aludes Me <ul><li>When you use a word, make sure it’s the right word </li></ul><ul><ul><li>My wife had a difficult delivery. They had to seduce labor. </li></ul></ul>Be A Better Writer 3/1/2010
    10. 10. The Meaning Aludes Me <ul><li>When you use a word, make sure it’s the right word </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Let’s conjugate at the baggage claim. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>You can’t rest on your morals. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>We need to be translucent with our customers. </li></ul></ul>Be A Better Writer 3/1/2010
    11. 11. The Meaning Aludes Me <ul><li>There’s no excuse for using the wrong word </li></ul>Be A Better Writer 3/1/2010
    12. 12. Correct: Proofreading Be A Better Writer 3/1/2010
    13. 13. Proofreading Techniques <ul><li>Self-checks </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Read out loud </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Print and read it with a finger </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Put it away and check it later </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Read it backwards </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Have someone else read it </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ WGBH TV, your favorite pubic television station” </li></ul></ul>Be A Better Writer 3/1/2010
    14. 14. Concise
    15. 15. Less is More <ul><li>&quot;There's not much to be said about the period except that most writers don't reach it soon enough.” </li></ul><ul><li>William Zinser </li></ul>
    16. 16. Less is More <ul><li>Continual partial attention </li></ul><ul><li>Your writing has to compete with other sources of information </li></ul><ul><li>Say less … communicate more </li></ul>
    17. 17. Less is More <ul><li>Houdini’s secret </li></ul>
    18. 18. Less is More 210,000 Copies 14 Million Copies
    19. 19. Compelling
    20. 20. Writing Style <ul><li>The combination of word choice, sentence structure and other factors </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Differs with audiences, format and purpose </li></ul></ul><ul><li>We’ll just touch on a few elements </li></ul>
    21. 21. Stay Active <ul><li>Write in the active voice </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The subject does something to the object </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Russ drank a beer. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The car burns oil. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The dog ate my homework. </li></ul></ul>
    22. 22. Stay Active <ul><li>Write in the active voice </li></ul><ul><li>Active writing is: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Shorter </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>More direct </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>More interesting </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>More easily understood </li></ul></ul>
    23. 23. Clear
    24. 24. The Communications Plan <ul><li>Audience : Who is the reader? </li></ul><ul><li>Objective : What do you want the reader to know, feel or do? </li></ul><ul><li>Messages : What are the key points you want to communicate? </li></ul>
    25. 25. The inverted pyramid Most important point Supporting point Supporting point Supporting point Supporting point Supporting point
    26. 26. Resources
    27. 27. Resources
    28. 28. Resources
    29. 29. The Value of Writing Well <ul><li>Customers and clients evaluate you and your firm, in part, based on your written communication skills </li></ul><ul><li>Good writing conveys an image of professionalism and competence </li></ul>
    30. 30. Be a Better Business Writer Improving Written Workplace Communication

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