More than ever, holiday time is time to keep those lines of communication open. Not only with friends and family, but especially on the job with our customers and clients. Where are we going to find the time? Let’s begin by taking less time to communicate effectively.
So how can we write faster – and communicate better?
If you’ve been reading this blog for a while now, you know that I have a very definite bias in this area. Here it is: To write faster, you have to begin by knowing what you’re talking about!
First of all, take just a minute or two to ask yourself the big five questions:
- What am I writing?
- Who am I writing to?
- Am I writing to inform, or to persuade?
- Of what, or to do what?
- So that what will happen?
And then, to get the results I need, what is the tone – the relationship I need to build, or to reinforce with my reader?
Now you’re ready to think about what you want to say. Jot down a quick list – just a few words for each item – to keep you on track. Organize that list by putting a number, representing the order in which you will talk about it, in front of each item.
Next, write a good, strong, first paragraph including the essential items: who, what, when, where, why, and how. Use this paragraph to set up the following paragraph, which will be presented in time-saving list format, making it faster, clearer, and easier for you to write, as well as faster, clearer, and easier for your reader to read.
By using the list format as early as the second paragraph, you will definitely make it easier for your reader to “get” what you’re talking about quickly. Beyond that, using that list format will automatically handle content flow and enable you to write quickly, fluently. You will find that the list format also does almost mystical things for your thought process. It will help you to focus in to clarify your thoughts; it will automatically bring the most appropriate words to mind; it eases the transition from one thought to the next; and all of this, once you know what you are going to say, lets you write faster!
One last tip for shortening your on-the-job writing process: If you are writing for someone else’s approval – especially if there is a group approval process involved – get agreement on the big five questions, the tone, and the content list from all who will be reviewing what you write before you write a word! In some cases, this will be the biggest timesaver of all.
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