10 Ways to Become a Better Writer
Clear, concise communication is the key to getting results. That’s why what you write, and how you write, is critically important.
The proof? A recent survey by Metlife found that 97 percent of business executives rate writing skills as “very important.” In a 2013 Job Outlook Survey, employers rated the “ability to communicate with persons inside and outside the organization” as the single most important skill they look for in a candidate.
Here’s the paradox: Employers recognize the power of effective communication, yet few invest in it. They may invest in sales training, health and safety, online IT education. But rare is the organization that trains its people to be better writers. And these days, no matter what their role, everybody is a writer.
When you write, you disclose your character, your judgement, the depth and agility of your mind. Otherwise accomplished people fire off emails full of grammatical errors, or write sloppy, redundant reports, or produce pitches full of half-formed thoughts and awkward constructions.
My focus is on written communication. The Ross Rules apply to oral communication as well, but when you watch someone speak, other factors come into play. On the page or the computer screen, communication is pure. Distractions are removed. The words do all the work. And they don’t evaporate into thin air—they remain there to be examined and criticized. If the words are banal, or ill-considered, or dishonest, people notice.
David Ogilvy, the legendary ad executive, sent this note to his employees in 1982:
The better you write, the higher you will go in Ogilvy & Mather. People who think well, write well. Woolly-minded people write woolly memos, woolly letters and woolly speeches. Good writing is not a natural gift. You have to learn to write well.
The Ross Rules is a fun, engaging, one-hour presentation for groups of any size. It’s full of memorable lessons and specific examples. Most attendees see instant improvement in their writing skills and productivity.
(An acclaimed author, editor, teacher, and corporate consultant, Gary Stephen Ross has spent the past 35 years helping others communicate more effectively.)