It is amazing how one little word can change everything. Recently, I was coming out of a public bathroom and read the sign on the inside of the door, which said – Before you leave, turn off the light and close the door. Think about it. If you would follow the directions and do exactly what the sign said, you could never leave. But, by changing “Before” to “When”, it makes all the sense in the world. One little word changes everything.
In our business, we write all the time; advertisements, news releases, stories, posts, chats, emails, proposals, reports. You name it and we write it. And, because that’s what we do, we better be good at it. Some people may not be as good at it. They may not spell as well. Their grammar may not be stellar. They may not know the best practices for proofreading (read front ways out loud and backward to yourself) or how to do it well. But everyone can be a better writer by following these simple steps.
- Decide what you’re going to write before you write it. I don’t mean every word, but the main points you want to get across, regardless of what it is.
- Start with the pyramid approach. Write the consensus of what you’re writing first, so if all that gets read is the first paragraph, you’ve communicated your main point.
- Back up your main points with supporting information. Elaborate. Add to. Emphasize.
- Summarize everything you’re saying in a final paragraph. Have you recaptured your key messaging?
- Don’t feel like you have to write 1000 words. Some of the best articles I read are short and to the point (We’re at 287 words right now – assuming this is one of those best articles).
- Proofread it – more than once. Based on the level of importance of who you’re writing to and what you’re writing about, you may want to read it several times. I always seem to find something that I want to change that if I had only read it once, I wouldn’t have caught.