Effective communication is the sharing of information that others pay attention to, understand, remember and use.
Are you ready to take your writing to the next level? Check out the following strategies to communicate more effectively. They are not just meant for college students or people who write for a living such as technical writers or authors. Even if you only communicate via email with your boss and peers at work, following these guidelines will have your co-workers taking you, and what you have to say, more seriously. You will also be more appreciated for sharing information that is useful, easy to understand and meant specifically for the people receiving it. What more could anyone ask for?
- Know your purpose. To be effective, writing must have a purpose. What do you want to communicate? Why are your ideas important and/or why do you want to share the information? Where is the best place and what is the best format to disseminate your ideas? Answering these questions will help you share your knowledge more successfully.
- Focus on your audience. Especially in a work environment, you will be appreciated for enumerating the ways your ideas will benefit others. How, specifically, can this data be used? Why should it be important to them? An effective writer doesn’t just provide information. They explain to their reader what’s in it for them. There is nothing wrong with writing simply to express but, in the long run, you won’t have very many readers if you don’t deliver something useful. And, you’ll have more readers/fans/happy coworkers if you make it easy for them to understand and use your ideas in ways that make their lives better.
- Write to your audience. It is helpful to think about who your audience is so that you can tailor your writing to them. You don’t want your readers to feel that you are “talking at them” or “talking down to them”. Use language that they use. Explain new information but not things they already know. Good writers engage their audience. Use ‘we’ and ‘us’ where appropriate. If warranted, be conversational. When writing to an academic audience, be formal. When communicating with management, focus on solutions rather than problems. If you don’t spend time considering who your audience is and how to engage them, you may very well lose them.
- Start general and get specific. In a previous post, I stated that an effective way to write is to say what you are going to say, say it and then tell your audience what you just said, using different language (and varying amounts of detail) each time. The best way to do this is to begin general and introduce your topic. Then, express what you want to communicate in sufficient concrete detail. Finish by succinctly summarizing the provided information and don’t forget to state the reason for your communication including the benefit to others.
- Vary sentence lengths and structure. Many people have a tendency to write mostly medium, long or short sentences. This can be boring for readers, especially if you write mostly medium or long sentences. While editing, you can break up long sentences, join up small sentences and rearrange sentences to create a more engaging read. But, don’t do this randomly. Think about what your expressing in each sentence and determine the best way to do that. Use short sentences when you want to make an impact. Use longer sentences when communicating related bits of information. Intersperse that with medium sentences to create an effective flow.
- Use better words and a variety of words. Although writing style ultimately depends on your purpose and audience, in general, it is always a good idea to avoid slang. To make your writing sound more educated, without sounding arrogant or stuffy, use words such as large instead of big, significant rather than important. Avoid repeating the same words over and over as that is boring and unimpressive. The thesaurus feature in Microsoft Word makes it easy to use an assortment of words.
- Read your writing out loud. This is very helpful in making sure that our writing flows smoothly and helps us catch grammatical errors.
These strategies may seem daunting at first or a lot of effort but, like anything else, your writing will improve the more you apply them to your work. Writing is both a practice and a process. Typos, grammatical errors, wordiness, repetitive vocabulary, and similar sentence structure can all be corrected in editing. The more you employ these practices, the easier it will be to write smoothly and effectively and engage with your audience. These approaches will soon become second nature and you’ll know it when you spend less time editing, other people take more notice of you and your writing, and more readily recognize and adopt your good ideas.
2 thoughts on “Writing Tips for Smooth and Engaging Writing”
Reading out loud is really underrated. We used to do that when proofreading newspapers, and found that many more typos (as well as sentences that just didn’t flow right) than if we were to merely read. Anyway, thanks for this post!
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I’m surprised more people don’t do it. It makes such a difference to our writing.