Amplify Your Best Ideas
Every day we see pitches, posts, and articles from entrepreneurs and executives; most of them are very talented, but some of their content is pretty mediocre. The difference isn't talent, but rather the thought and effort they put into communicating effectively.
If you are an accomplished professional, the ability to communicate effectively can accelerate your rate of advancement. We all know people who are obviously intelligent, but just can't seem to consistently offer a series of actionable recommendations. Such people aren't worth nearly as much as their colleagues who communicate with clarity.
Here's how to make dramatic progress...
Have a repeatable message. Most of the stuff you read has no clear message, which makes it nearly impossible to repeat. In our digital age, being easily repeated is the difference between fame and forgotten.
In most companies, it takes more than one person's agreement before anything happens. The people who you need to say "okay" must be able to repeat your message to the other people who must say "okay".
Ask yourself: in the simplest possible terms, what do I want? Even more importantly, what do I want the reader to do after reading what I wrote?
Know your audience. If you write everything in the same style, you are - sorry - an ineffective writer. You must adapt your style and approach to match the needs of the people you wish to influence.
The odds are that your boss doesn't think like your subordinates or your friends. The people in Accounting don't think like the people in Marketing.
Some of us like facts and figures, others crave stories.To get a message into someone's brain, you have to package it in a form they can process. For some people, that means using 100 words or less; for others, it means including three pages of support materials.
Ask yourself: who is going to read this, and how do they think? To get a clue, re-read anything they have sent to you.
Be powerful, not passive. Powerful professionals DO things; they don't sit passively while others take action. But huge numbers of professionals write in the passive tense, like this:
After careful consideration, our department's new operating policy was approved this morning by the management team.
What a lousy way to try to get others excited. Far better to write:
We just created five simple principles to make daily life in our department easier and simpler.
Whenever you write, show people how and why to take action. Demonstrate that you are doing the same. Empower others. Get them moving ahead.
Use examples. Without examples, your words are little more than abstract thoughts, and most people ignore abstract thoughts. There are good reasons for this; we all have daily pressures, and if you don't know how to implement an idea, it isn't useful to you.
Examples show readers how to implement your ideas.
If you are suggesting that your boss approve a new expense, tell him or her why the expense is such a good investment and give examples of how it will support your group's goals.
Every year in most towns, the Board of Education fights for more money from the Board of Finance. And every year, concerned parents stand up and give heartfelt examples of how children will be hurt if the school budget is cut. Such stories don't always work, but without them our school budget would be much smaller than it is today.
Use more pictures and fewer words. There's a reason why nearly every LinkedIn article starts with an image; more people read articles with images.
The same is true for nearly every document. Some people think in pictures, others in words. If you fail to include pictures, you will fail to reach some people. Plus, you can use images to draw attention to your key points.
Just as importantly, don't waste words. In fact, you might want to write "don't waste words" right above the screen on all your digital devices. I'm serious. Only use as many words as is necessary to get your point across clearly, and no more.
Clarity really matters. Be clear about what you want, and how you help others. That's a powerful combination.