You’re watching as the first golfer walks up to the tee box. You watch how he or she starts out. How confident and how competent he or she appears. His or her attention to the details others may ignore. You can tell, just from how meticulously this golfer takes his or her stance, that this golfer will be a player – or not.
You cannot tell what kind of a person that golfer is from his or her stance at the first tee, but you can anticipate how well you can reasonably expect that golfer to do. Maybe what kind of a player he or she will be. You may even ask yourself, “Would I like to have that person on my team for the next tournament?”
Have you ever thought that your writing can say those same things about you, as well? Do you look like a player?
To begin with, good golfers, indeed good athletes, and good writers, all know that paying attention to the details others let slide, or don’t think matter, is critically important to their success. It is, in fact, a serious part of looking like, as well as being, a player, no matter what the game.
As Pro Golfer Billy Casper once said, “At my first Masters, I got the feeling that if I didn’t play well, I wouldn’t go to heaven.” That’s serious.
So what are the details that others may let slide that you need to pay attention to?
There seems to be a trend toward ignoring what Miss Cooke, my English teacher considered critical: You know what I mean, the grammar, the spelling, the usage, the punctuation – the mechanics of the language. Many folks out there no longer see these issues as very important.
If you want to stand out from your competition for a job, a promotion, or getting that contract, start with the detail that others may let slide. Improve your grammar and usage skills. One place to start is with the quick blogs on this site. Another is to borrow a good English textbook from a friend, or maybe the kids. Does your company or organization offer workshops, or a tuition reimbursement program? It’s amazing to me that so many people looking for a job do not see the mechanics of the language as being as important as the people doing the hiring do. Go figure!
And certainly co-equal with the mechanics of the language is the strategic side of your business writing. In the business situation, your communication is meant to get results – with your writing and with your speaking. While there are fewer strategic business writing books available, perhaps your librarian, or your favorite bookstore will be able to recommend one. You may want to check out the posts for the last two weeks on this site to get you started. Many of the posts on this site, even the ones listed under a variety of categories, cover a variety of strategic tactics and concepts. Check ‘em out.
- We said that, “You can tell, from how meticulously this golfer (begins)…that this (person) will be a player – or not.” The business writer does this with the first paragraph.
- And then we said, “…you can anticipate how well you can reasonably expect that (person) to do.” This you demonstrate somewhat subtly with (a) the “tone” of the piece, (b) the content you elect to include, (c) how well your material is organized and presented, and (d) perhaps the “call to action” at the end, if there is one. The test: If your reader were asked what you said, could that reader give one single, clear sentence to sum it all up?
- And finally we said, “Would I like to have that person on my team…?” This desirable question, whether you are looking for a job, a promotion, or a contract, should be the result of the piece as a whole. A big part of that must be the clarity of that one-sentence summary the reader takes away in his or her own words, and how quickly he or she “gets it.” What the reader thinks you said is what you said to him or to her.
What do people want to think about the business people they do business withtoday? How about decency, appreciation, honesty, respect, leadership, integrity, excellence – especially in the areas and with the problems you can solve for them.
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