Agenda highlights

Lead with the future -- rather than with background. Imagine you want to visit the Statue of Liberty in the months after Hurricane Sandy. Which of the following 2 models do you prefer? ran this headline:

Statue of Liberty to Reopen by July 4
(3/19/13, click to view .)

Conventional business writing:

Status of Statue of Liberty

As you may know, the Statue of Liberty has been closed since Hurricane Sandy last October. The statue is to reopen by July 4.

Notice that the news article leads with the future and immediately tells you what you need to know. By contrast, the example I devised of conventional business writing leads with background and immediately tells you merely that there's an "announcement" about some "status."
  • 2. Deploy your voice. Emphasize key words; speed through the rest. Avoid "uptalk?": finish each sentence -- even a question, request or order -- on a voice pitch that's both strong and engaging. Volunteer for supportive video-playback speech training, or learn by just watching.
  • 3. Speak your audience's language. Know whom to tell "You'll have 8 gigabytes" -- and whom to tell "I'll double your computer's memory." Strengthen your supervisory style. Create a "plain-language workplace."
  • 4. Be positive. Clear up and cheer up. For "wimp words" like "I think," substitute "probably," "usually" and 4 other responsible alternatives. Correct errors the correct way. Break bad news the good way.
  • 5. Lay out logically. Plant your message even before your first word is read. Exploit columns (v. rows) in charts. Boost readability with 3 word-processor settings. "Power punctuate" to promote the important and to demote the mundane.
  • 6. Be consistent. Circuit-check your document for coherence. Stick with the best word rather than scrounge for synonyms. Practice "equal writes": write around generic "he."
  • 7. Be precise. Distinguish restrictive "that" from descriptive "which." Link modifiers to what they should modify. Quote. Be math savvy.
  • 8. Be brief. Distill one-screen emails from multi-screeners, one-minute briefings from "long-ings." Nip 6 kinds of wordiness.
  • 9. Choose strong verbs. Distill them from weak nouns. Activate most passive verbs. Impart immediacy with present tense -- often even to express past or future.
 Choose Write & Speak Like the News especially if:
  • 1. You want a practical alternative to bureaucratese. Capitalize on journalism's proven responses to communication challenges.
  • 2. You are a critical thinker and want reasons, not just rules.
  • 3. You like case method. We'll critique striking examples from newspapers, live TV news, emails, letters and reports. You'll reinforce your new skills with supportive editing, writing and video-playback speaking exercises, many just 30 seconds long and all voluntary. Your writing and speaking will do justice to your expertise.
  • 4. You're busy. In the first minute of training, most clients remark on the new power in their writing or speaking.