Writing isn't just to communicate. In business, just about everything you write should be designed to influence the audience. It may be to gain acceptance, improve your image, have someone follow instructions or give you formal approval for an initiative or business case.
If you want to be successful and climb the corporate ladder, you need to go further than just communicating with your writing and use what you write to influence others and get what you want - so you can succeed.
Forget what you learned about how to write in high school or college – they rarely focus on how to influence, and may have even ruined your ability to write to influence.
Here are 7 reasons you can’t influence with your Writing:
- You focus too much time on spelling and grammar
Of course, your final document had better be grammatically correct with impeccable spelling, but this is the last thing you need to focus on. Instead, start with content – that’s what you’re good at - and what will influence the reader. Then get help with grammar and spelling.
- You write based on what you want to write, not what your reader needs to hear
If you know your area of expertise, you’ll probably bore others when you write about it. It’s hard, but you need to put yourself in their shoes and pare back your enthusiasm to write what matters, not what you like.
- You don’t have a strategy to get what you want out of your writing
Without strategy, you’re writing backwards. First, what is your purpose, then what is your plan to achieve it. You use strategic planning on other parts of your responsibility, why not in your writing too?
- You try to sound smart with your writing instead of being effective
The goal is to influence, so skip the fancy language, long words, complex sentence structure and the pretense. Pare it down so it’s easy and quick to get your point, see your message and agree with you.
- You don’t consider the medium when you write
You can’t use the same approach across the different types of writing you do. A procedure is very different from a memo, a business case is different from a notice board posting and an email is different from a normal letter. You need to adapt to get the results you want.
- You don’t hone in on what will influence your reader
Before you can influence someone, you need to know what will influence them. Then you can incorporate it into what you write and increase you odds instead of hoping for the best.
- Your documents make it hard for readers to absorb your message
Along with everything else, if you make it hard for busy people to read, absorb, understand and then agree with your message, you can’t influence them. Make it easy for them – they are inundated with stuff to read and you need to be able to get their attention.
Now that you know what’s holding you back, you need to change how you handle the things you write.
It’s the first in the Quick Guides For Managers series and I've made the electronic versions available for free. If you prefer to read the printed version, it’s available on Amazon and other online retailers.
The electronic versions of "Write To Influence" is free.
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