Five Tools to Better Writing


In my last Blip (What’s in Your Communication Toolbox?), I referenced the communication reports I wrote for my dad during my childhood. Every Sunday my sister and I were expected to turn one in.

Years later when I asked my dad why he made us do these (on top of our heavy school workload, sports activities, chores and hobbies), he said he wanted to expose us to new ideas and help us appreciate the value of time. Now, how can I argue with that?

Although I disliked doing them at the time, these reports taught me a lot that I apply every day on behalf of TSN clients. They’re part of my communication toolbox — skills we use to convey a message in our writing and speaking.

Use stories.
I found my dad responded better to my reports that evoked feelings, or had “personality” to them. Humans, after all, are emotional beings, and we love our stories. Incorporating metaphors and anecdotes to your writing makes for a more interesting and memorable read.

Under-promise and over-deliver.
The first year of report writing, I missed the Sunday deadline a few times. I soon learned that if I got the reports completed ahead of schedule, my life was a little bit easier. If anything came up, as inevitably happens in life, I didn’t have to worry about not having time.

Be original.
Yes, he caught me once plagiarizing from an encyclopedia. That was a tough lesson. But the more I digested the info and wrote about it in my own words, the quicker I mastered the topic.

Know your reader.
In my case, the reports were for one set of eyes. But the one time a friend read one, she was baffled by it. In all writing, knowing whom you’re writing for is key to delivering content that will be read and valued.

Don’t yammer on.
I tried a few times in my reports to sound more intelligent than I was. And a few times I became too verbose, thinking the report would “look better” if it went on for pages. Nope, never worked.

What is in your communication toolbox? And how can we help?