With the majority of work moved to our home offices, living rooms, and kitchens, a lot more is riding on how well we communicate through writing. Social media engagement is higher, email interactions have shot through the roof, and companies are finding new ways to expand their reach.
Whether you’re working the same office job from your couch, or have started your own company, follow these 5 tips to make your writing POP!
Use simplified language, but not dumbed down. Don’t try to impress your reader with your verbose vocabulary, it’s isolating, and gets in the way of communicating your point.
People appreciate being able to access your argument easily. This is especially true if you write for an audience that isn’t in the same field as you; keep to the necessary information and provide easy-to-understand definitions for industry terms you can’t avoid using.
EDIT your work.
I know it sounds obvious but even if it is an easy e-mail, re-read and double-check important figures, especially the spelling of a name!
Recently I gave out the wrong number for an important job because I rushed and forgot to re-check all aspects before clicking that ‘send’ button. (Thankfully they e-mailed me back to let me know!) This looks bad. Don’t do it.
Editing is more than just looking at the red squiggles in spell check. Actually read it out loud. If you find yourself running out of breath, your run-on sentence needs to be chopped up. If you need to go back as you read, you need to clarify your point.
But still check your spelling, copy and paste that doc.
Give. Them. Space.
Make sure you format your piece to keep the reader’s eye moving through it. Blank space naturally draws the eye along the page.
Don’t bog down your piece with chunks of text. Your writing might be genius but your reader will run away if it’s presented in a block.
Make it personal.
Give your reader something to care about! During the lockdown, we all need a little more connection. Share a relevant tidbit from your life to intro your piece, use informal language directed toward the reader, or ask questions to keep your audience engaged.
Steer clear from the verb “to be”.
Now, this can be tricky as typically, we type how we talk. You want to cut out ‘has been’, ‘they were’, ‘when we were doing’, etc.
But I hear you cry, “You just told me to make it personal!”
I know, I know, this one trips up professionals and beginners alike. This is why going back and editing your work is crucial.
When you do this, you force yourself to pick specific verbs, tighten up your sentences and bring your work into the present tense. In fact, if this is challenging you the easiest way to cut “to be” (or not to be) is to look through and change all past tenses to present.
If you’re staring at a blank screen, just write. Seriously, set a timer for 5 minutes and write out whatever comes to mind. Then you can go back and cut out all the clutter.
Not everything you write is going to land you on the New York Times bestseller, but with these simple tips, you’ll engage your audience and let your personality shine through your work.