It requires a set of skills and talents for someone to succeed at something. You could be a tech genius or a convincing salesperson. But there is one skill you should improve on no matter what your career is: writing well.
Why Brush Up on Your Writing Skills?
Communication skills are an important skill to master. Being able to communicate properly and effectively can get you to places and make things happen. But your skills should not only be limited to oral communication. You should also be able to communicate well through writing.
Excellent writing skills allow you to deliver your message clearly and logically. It also lets you express yourself, especially if you struggle with public speaking. Poor writing skills can take away opportunities. If you write emails, business plans, or executive summaries poorly, you’re likely to lose potential investors, business partners, and customers.
There are different means of communication these days. PowerPoint, for example, makes it easier to communicate ideas or present data without writing long narratives. Despite that, top business leaders, like Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon.com, prefer their employees to write narrative memos.
In a letter, Bezos revealed company executives don’t do slide-oriented presentations, including PowerPoint. Instead, they create six-page narrative memos. They begin their meetings by reading these memos. He explains this approach helps create a good discussion rather than executives bluffing their way through the meeting.
Writing can also help you be smarter. It’s an opportunity for you to get your thoughts and ideas out into the open. Writing a term paper, for instance, challenges you to think harder. It clarifies your knowledge and helps you remember what you wrote for long-term use.
How Can You Improve Your Writing Skills?
Some factors affect your writing abilities. Not having enough practice, for example, doesn’t give you enough chances to write well. You might also be using too many shortcuts when writing, like typing “u” instead of “you” or leaving off punctuation.
Knowing how to write well, be it in a business setting or creatively, can open doors of opportunity. You can use these skills to self-publish a children’s book or impress an investor with a well-written business plan.
Here are three things you can do to help you write better.
1. Focus on the structure
When you’re writing in your journal, it’s acceptable if your writing is not properly structured. But it shouldn’t be the case when you’re writing to communicate. Make sure to organize your thoughts to deliver your message clearly.
Before you start writing, ensure that you understand the topic fully. As Albert Einstein said, “If you can’t explain it to a six-year-old, you don’t understand it yourself.” If you’re clear on what you’re writing about, it will be easier for you to explain it in a way reader will understand.
Outlining is also a helpful way to structure your writing. Outlining gives you an idea of how your writing flows, especially if you’re writing about a complex topic. It serves as your guide throughout the writing process.
2. Tighten your writing
Some writers tend to write like how they talk. On some occasions, this can be a good thing as it makes your text more conversational. In some cases, however, it makes your writing hard to read.
One way to tighten your writing is to limit your use of prepositional phrases. These phrases can make your text unnecessarily wordy. Simplifying them as much as possible can make your writing clearer.
Apart from unnecessary prepositions, you should eliminate filler words and phrases. They can add color and drama to your writing, but they often contribute nothing but clutter. Some of these filler words and phrases include “in order,” “very,” “really,” “that,” and “basically,” among others.
3. Write in a conversational tone
Writing in a more conversational tone makes your text easy to read. Try using simple words and avoid using highly technical words and jargon. Not every reader will know what they mean. Having a rich vocabulary can come in handy, but don’t use million-dollar words to show off.
Another way to make your writing more conversational is to use contractions. Instead of writing “I am,” “you are,” or “did not,” write “I’m,” “you’re,” or “didn’t.” Contractions make your writing sound less formal.
Keep in mind, however, the tone of your text depends on what you’re writing. Some papers are more technical, which needs a formal tone.
These practices can help you write better. But don’t forget to focus on the basics of writing, as well. Be familiar with the grammar rules and proper use of punctuation to make sure your readers understand the message you’re trying to communicate.
Improving your writing skills takes time and practice. Keep track of your progress to see what areas still need improvement.