Weekly Tip: Writing for Impact

You probably write proposals. You likely write quotes, and I know you write emails. If you think about it, you write a lot more than you ever thought you would when you were in school. I write as a part of my job now, but I did not go to school to become a writer, and if I had, I would not have been learning how to write the kinds of materials I write now. We are all writers because we are all communicators if we sell. Let me give you some tips on writing for more impact, regardless of whether it is a million dollar proposal or a two-sentence email.

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1)  Write tight – You want to use as few words as possible to communicate your idea. That is why editing is as important as authoring in the process of writing for business communication.

2)  10th Grade – If you are writing, communicate as if it were to someone who was in the 10th grade. This is not about dumbing-down, (I know some amazingly smart high-schoolers), it is about clarity. When you write at that level you already assume that you have to provide context, so you are more complete in your explanations. Remember, when you send a document digitally, it will travel to places you had not planned. You want all readers to understand with clarity your message, even the unintended ones.

3)  Write real – I read A LOT of proposals. Often I wonder, “Who does the author think is reading this, Peter Drucker?” Save the MBA-speak, buzz-word filled, and jargon laden language for your Harvard Business Review article. Writing for impact is not about writing to impress, it is about writing to be understood.

4)  Don’t write alone – All important documents, including emails, should be reviewed by someone on your team for typos, grammar and most importantly, CLARITY.

5)  The best….write and edit separately. They write their document and then edit it later, not simultaneously. This took me a long time to embrace, but I found that it was worth it. They are two very different processes and engage separate parts of your thinking. So, separate them.

You may not think of yourself as a writer, but research says that you are. The average sales person, between emails, proposals, quotes, texts, CRM entries and other documentation writes over 2,000 words per week. That’s 100,000 words a year, or the equivalent of 2-3 BOOKS per year. You are a writer. Make certain you are good at it because it is a big part of what you do for a living.