Today, it seems that the majority of communications that we send and receive fall within Twitter’s 140-character limit and include at least one unrecognizable acronym, topped off with the latest jargon. In this world of abbreviated communication, what’s the role of writing in our careers and organizations?
IABC recently spoke with Lynda McDaniel, author of the award-winning book Words at Work, about why developing our writing skills is still as important as ever, and how communicators can take their writing to the next level.
IABC: Your workshop will explore how to write blogs, articles, proposals and other works that grab readers’ attention. What are some of the ways to do this?
Lynda McDaniel: As writers, we have many ways to grab attention. Consider all the creative techniques, such as alliteration, vivid verbs, similes, and—my favorite—storytelling. Even emails can include a story, not just to entertain but to make messages more memorable. And similes help make the unfamiliar familiar. For example: Our services are like a personal trainer. Or: Our software works like a high-speed train. By taking something unknown and showing your readers how it’s like something familiar, in a nanosecond they better understand your product or service—and it’s more memorable than just telling them.
Those are the flashier answers, but the most important and fundamental one is to write to your readers, not at them. It’s so easy to dump data and cross a writing task off our to-do list, but all too often, we haven’t written to our readers; we haven’t connected and communicated with them. So instead of using stuffy words and sharing features, think of your readers’ needs and level of understanding. Write to them with benefits and easy-to-grasp words.