By Carla D. Bass, Colonel, USAF (Ret)
Last month, I promised some tips on how to make each word count and every second of the reader’s time play to your advantage.
I teach my students (professionals already in the workforce) that powerful writing is based on five foundational principles:
- You have limited opportunity to make your case and influence the audience.
- Empathize with the audience. Make your product easy to read, understandable, and unambiguous.
- Quantify, using specific facts and figures as needed to make your case. Ensure the product conveys the “so what” of the communication.
- Avoid jargon; what’s clear to you may befuddle the reader.
- Proofread! Presentation and administrative quality are paramount. Bad grammar, incorrect punctuation, and misspelled words lose the audience no matter how compelling the content.
Influential writing must consist of:
- A solid hook to grab the reader’s attention. You have scant seconds to hook the fish!
- Crisp, focused text
- Solid, logical, fact-based information
- A message organized so that you lead the reader, without detour, from the beginning to conclusion of your message
How do you achieve that?
- Determine the goal of your communication and outline the approach to attain it
- Know your audience: its interests in and level of expertise with the material to be presented
- Write to respond to questions the product should answer; anticipate the audience’s questions; respond to those, as well
- Examine the draft from the perspective of the intended audience; adjust as necessary
- Consider the sequence of the material presented. Does if flow logically? Adjust as needed
- Showcase your strongest facts
- Tailor the message proportionally, based on allocated space
- Be objective in presenting the information
- Know how much information is enough and what not to include
My concluding recommendation to my audience: You spent years (and significant funds) establishing expertise in your chosen field. Now, spend a small fraction of that time to strengthen your writing skills to become more effective … and competitive … in that chosen field!
For more information or to schedule Carla for an interview or seminar, see www.carladbass.com.
Write to Influence! is available for pre-sale on Amazon and will be published on 3 Jan 2017.