pen and paper

“Regardless of the changes in technology, the market for well-crafted messages will always have an audience.” — Steve Burnett

In order to produce a high level of written communication one must write clearly, succinctly and creatively to engage their audience.

Effective written communication allows individuals across departments, disciplines and areas of expertise to establish connection and understanding with one another. It allows people to freely communicate despite time and location. It also provides opportunity to contemplate and respond thoughtfully to messages that are sent. No matter what strides our world makes in developing technology and alternative communication methodologies, businesses and relationship success will always depend upon effective written communication skills.

For some, writing a simple email or composing a speech or article comes naturally; but for many of us, the idea of writing conjures up anxiety and hesitation. It doesn’t have to be that way. Writing is just like every other skill. We develop writing skills by understanding the component parts and then practicing until our ability and confidence grow.

Let’s look at a few critical components for effective written communication: They include:

  1. Using words that make abstract concepts, issues and information clear and understandable.
  2. Organizing information in logical sequences that guide your readers along the path to a natural conclusion. Do the work of thinking for your reader to make it easy for them to understand your viewpoint.
  3. Use language that persuades and influences a shift in your readers’ perspective. An excellent way to do this is by telling stories that express your point.
  4. Presenting objective or subjective viewpoints and arguments succinctly. You receive no award for being verbose, but being succinct boosts readership and promotes clarity. Multiple drafts and second opinions help with this.
  5. Flexing your writing style to the specific audience. You would probably address a friend, parent, boss and customer differently.
  6. Articulating information with proper grammar, spelling, and citations so that your reader’s attention is on the message instead of the errors.

Now that we have identified the necessary ingredients for written communication, we want to provide you with some tips for developing written communication skills.

Speak. A trick to checking your work and improving your writing skills is to read your work aloud. Reading text verbally forces you to slow down enough to pick out problems that your eye might otherwise miss.

Read. Another way to improve your writing skills is to read. As you read, you expand your vocabulary and discover new writing methodologies and styles.

Practice. The best way to improve is to write. Experiment writing through different genres, including letters, short articles or journal entries, procedures, and longer papers. Edit your written communication from the past. Eliminate unnecessary sentences. Clarify muddy points. Trim long paragraphs into short ones. Correct poor grammar. Fixing inefficiencies and mistakes of the past helps you avoid them in the present and future. As your confidence grows, ask for honest feedback and constructive improvement tips from others. Consider asking a friend or colleague to serve as your writing mentor.

Written communication skills are vital for developing relationships and influencing others. Leadership can never be by example only. It must also utilize communication, including written communication, to equip and cast vision for those who follow. Taking the time to invest in this skill’s development will certainly produce beneficial results within the workplace and one’s home life.