Five Ways to Make Readers Like What You Write
by Sam Harrison
Earlier this month, Andy Epstein posted an entry about the need for writing skills. Words, not pictures, are the currency of communications in the business world, he wisely wrote, so the better in-house creatives write, the higher their likelihood for success.
Tagging onto Andy’s suggestions, here are five ways to help make sure people like what you write.
1. Talk with people and not at them.
Try not to patronize, preach or present yourself too formally. And avoid vague generalizations. If you asked a friend about a movie, you would find it weird if she said, “Oh, it was a provocative film with a capable cast and effective cinematography.” Instead, you would expect her to provide juicy details about actors and storyline, drama and scenery. Be specific with your readers. Write correctly, but conversationally.
2. Write about people.
Whether you’re writing brand copy or business proposals, add people to your content. Don’t just tell about a concept – show how it will help the reader or end user. Don’t write stiffly about the company – include stories about people within the organization.
3. Stick to your theme.
Use the headline and opening paragraphs to introduce readers to your topic. And then stay with that same theme and voice throughout your piece.
4. Use quotes.
People love eavesdropping on other people. So include quotes from employees, suppliers, managers, end users and others. Quotes breathe air into the narrative and infuse energy into your writing.
The secret of good writing is rewriting. Many folks think professional writers don’t rewrite, but the opposite is true. Just like strong designers create dozens of sketches and thumbnails for a project, strong writers keep editing, tightening and rewriting sentences and paragraphs. After you’ve written something, print it out and view it from the reader’s perspective. Rewrite until you feel readers will understand and like what you’ve written.
Sam Harrison is a speaker, workshop leader and writer on creativity-related topics. His books include IdeaSelling: Successfully pitch your creative ideas to bosses, clients and other decision makers, IdeaSpotting: How to find your next great idea, and Zing!: Five steps and 101 tips for creativity on command. Find him at www.zingzone.com