The art of writing should be on the endangered species list.
Think about this if you are working on getting your message out to the public.
At its foundation, writing communicates an idea to a reader engagingly and straightforwardly. It doesn’t matter if you write the next Harry Potter-type blockbuster or instructions to your staff. Good writing shows your mind, and if you are trying to win over an audience, the concept of “you only have one opportunity to make a good first impression” applies.
If you look at emails you receive from various people, you will probably observe that many people are in a world of trouble. You can tell a great deal about a person by the way they write. Think about it this way — if you are writing to someone for the first time, then they are going to base their first impression of you on your email. That is how critical your writing skills are. On this day, especially during Covid-19, the impression you make when communicating with someone is as important as meeting them in person.
It seems as if many people don’t take the time to write well anymore. Maybe we have become so conditioned to texting or communicating via social media that we have gotten lazy. Whatever the reason, how you write is going to be important in how others perceive you. It even applies if you figure you don’t have to write because you will get your message out there through speeches or videos. Well, unless you are truly exceptional, most people produce excellent lectures and dynamic videos by composing a well-crafted script first. It doesn’t happen by accident.
You might be reading this and saying, “I’ll just hire a ghostwriter.” That’s all well and good, but a ghostwriter needs something on which to base the work they do for you. This is especially true when it is your message you are entrusting someone else with producing.
A ghostwriter relates the story that he had to write a book for someone and asked the client for the ideas that she wanted in the book. He received precisely three sentences to turn into a 150-page book. Another time, he received ten pages of notes that were so disjointed that he sent back the single word, “Huh?” to ask the client to explain what he wanted.
When you ask someone who writes a great deal the best way to become a better writer, you get several answers. We will discount the writer who said, “You get very good at writing when it is 2:00, and you have nothing on the screen in front of you with a 4:00 deadline staring at you.” Let’s look at the more constructive ideas that will propel you into the “well-written” category.
Most writers tend to agree you only get better at writing the more you do it. If you don’t continuously write, you get rusty. It’s like a golfer who puts the clubs away in October and brings them back out in April. With a five-month layoff, she can’t hit the ball like she did when she finished the preceding season. This is true of any activity. It would help if you kept doing it to maintain your proficiency.
Sharon was in a profession where she wrote a lot in her work, so she made a career as a writer. At the minimum, she made herself write an article a day, which she put up on her website. Not only did she see herself improve as a writer, but those articles brought traffic to her website and attracted clients. Furthermore, those articles became the foundation for her first published book.
It would help if you also tried to be grammatically correct when you write. Know the rules of writing. Even if you put your writing through a program to proof grammar and punctuation, pay attention to what you are doing wrong. It is easier to rectify your mistakes as you become conscious of them. An actor or singer will always accept a critique to improve; you need to do the same as a writer.
When you are writing to reach an audience, there are two questions you must ask yourself. One seems obvious, but not everyone refines the answer to it: “What do I want to say?” When your audience reads your website or your Facebook post, listens to your speech, watches your video, and consumes other forms of content, what do you want them to get out of it? Is it facts, how to contact you, the parameters of a new product, or what? It could be a combination of several items, but you must be very clear of the result you want to realize. It is much harder to write when you have a vague idea in mind instead of a clear vision of what your audience will get from your message.
The second question is, “Who is your audience?” This often determines the style of how you need to write. If you direct your message to teenagers, you will structure it differently than if you were writing to many Fortune 500 CEOs. You will rarely find yourself having to communicate with everybody. You usually direct your message to a niche market or a specific demographic interested in what you have to say.
You might be discouraged that improving yourself as a communicator might take some work. Those who are successful and make communicating with their audience look easy are putting an awful lot of time into what they do. What we usually see is the tip of the iceberg. Successful men and women have all their hard work forming the 90% of the iceberg hidden underwater. If you start today working on your writing and communication ability, you too will shine in your words, even if your audience doesn’t see what is hiding beneath the ocean to make it possible.
Divya Parekh is an international Executive Leadership Coach and #1 bestselling author. She is CEO of The DP Group, LLC a global coaching and consulting firm that provides leadership and team development services as well as corporate coaching. Having success in four major career paths, Divya has the expertise and knowledge of real world business backed by a proven record of success. Divya brings over 25 years of rich and extensive experience in academia, the biopharmaceutical industry, and as a global executive and leadership coach. In each of her many roles, she has empowered leaders with breakthrough insights, talent development strategies, and measurable business outcomes. During her biopharmaceutical journey, Divya led successful multi-million dollar projects from concept to completion in a fast-paced and competitive environment. Divya knows what it takes to initiate communication channels that cut across departments, improve cross-functional collaboration, and leverage scientific principles, technical skills, and Lean Six Sigma problem solving tools to measure, evaluate, and improve the productivity of leaders and teams. Divya has guided many seasoned executives, leaders, and management personnel into realizing their goals by creating a cohesive plan to reach their next level of accomplishment. She believes the key factor in leadership success is the partnerships we cultivate. She helps others to learn the exponential power in developing a thorough understanding of their business partners to build resonant relationships and a foundation of mutual trust and safety. Working with cross-functional groups, she inspires them to morph into high-performing, collaborative teams. Her technique utilizes measurable assessments, a supportive delivery method and a bit of pointed accountability that ensures the success of both leaders and professionals in the organization. Divya coaches leaders to cultivate interdependence between themselves and their internal and external stakeholders to achieve a combined mastery in connectivity and alignment through complex business and personal challenges. When people function in an environment of mutual trust, Return on Energy and Return on Investment flourish both in business and life. Divya is the recipient of Worldwide Branding VIP of the Year in 2013 as well as NAPW VIP Woman of the Year in 2014 for showing dedication, leadership, and excellence in leadership coaching. Additionally, Continental Who’s Who named her as a Pinnacle Professional in the field of coaching and consulting. As a Forbes Coaches Council Official Member, Divya is a regular contributor to Forbes. Divya is also the author of numerous leadership and entrepreneurial books. Her books include Stress Management, Mindfulness Mastery, Critical Thinking, Candid Critique, Appreciative Inquiry, Leadership and Influence, Emotional Intelligence, and her newest book, The Entrepreneur's Garden.