Q: How important are writing skills for professionals?
A: That depends. Do you want people to listen to you?
I did a podcast interview yesterday afternoon—I’ll let you know when it’s released—and that was one of the host’s questions.
I enjoyed the interview; the host seems like a smart guy. But when I’m not making my living writing for professionals, professionals pay me to teach them how to write for themselves. So how important do you think I think writing skills are? Um, very.
These days, everything in business happens in writing: Texts. Private messages. Tweets. Emails. Presentations. Your writing skills—or lack thereof—convey your ideas, connect you to your colleagues, give you visibility with your leadership.
How important is all of that?
Maybe it’s time to hone your writing skills
I’ll give you a sneak peek at some of the tips I offered on this podcast:
- Focus on your audience: what they want from you and what you want from them. Always have those two pieces of information in mind when you start to write—or at least when you start to revise your first draft. They’ll guide you to the right content.
- Be yourself. One mistake many business writers make is trying to sound formal or sophisticated—you know, the way they think a businessperson should sound. Well, guess what? You’re a businessperson. So sound like yourself. People will connect with you much more easily and they’ll remember what you have to say.
- Tell stories. Don’t just reel off a list of facts. Add value to the items on that list by setting them in a story. Stories make facts more memorable. And if you don’t want people to remember what you’re saying, then why are you bothering to say it?
- Read widely. Make sure you read things outside of work, even if you only have 5 or 10 minutes a day to do it. Read for fun, but read good writing. Whether you read books or magazine articles, you’ll unconsciously come to understand the difference between good writing and…well, less-good writing. Aim to emulate the former.
- Write. Every day. Yes, I know you’re busy doing Great Things. Changing the business world and all that. But if you can spend just 15 minutes a day writing, you’ll notice the improvement. I’ll have another 5-day writing challenge starting in September. Click here to get on the waiting list and I’ll let you know when to register.
Well, what are you waiting for? Write. Now.