Single Most Effective Technique for Better Communication
“What can I do to be able to write more like you?”
Over the years, clients I have assisted in various capacities have flattered me with this question.
There is certainly more than one way to improve one’s writing. Mindful practice would be one. One-on-one tutorial with an experienced tutor would be another. Keeping in mind the principles of writing conversationally and of storytelling would also be near the top of the list. But if I had to identify what I consider to be the single most valuable “short-cut” technique for better writing (and communication of any kind, for that matter), it would be this: Put yourself in the place of your reader or audience. If you are writing a resume, for example, consider your document from the position of the hiring manager who might be reading it (presuming it passes any screening software that might be in use). Have you invested the time and effort needed to make everything crystal clear and easy to read? Is your material both well-organized and concise? Or are you in effect submitting something less polished, with an implied message along the lines of, “Here’s my resume. I didn’t have the time to make everything as easy to digest as I would have liked. Please figure it out for yourself.” If you are writing a message—email or other—designed to persuade the recipient to do something you want that person to do, have you considered presenting your argument from that individual’s perspective (in other words, taking into account what is most important to her or him)? Or are you for the most part writing with your own needs and wants in mind, regardless of the considerations of the person on the other end? If you are writing marketing collateral of any kind, have you crafted it to directly address the needs and wants of your audience or are you mainly just telling them what is important to you (your “bragging points,” so to speak)?
This may at first glance appear almost too obvious to be worth mentioning but in my experience, most people fail to put themselves in the place of their reader or audience. This is the main reason they fail to communicate their messages effectively—and the main reason they are unsuccessful. Mechanics such as spelling and grammar are easy enough for an editor to correct. Logic and content are not so easily “corrected.” Ideally, the writer should get these right before the draft is passed along for editing.
Adopting this perspective when writing may do more than just make you a better writer and communicator. It may also help you achieve greater success as a human being, in all your relationships. So when crafting a persuasive message of any kind, remember to always put yourself in the place of your reader or audience—and write with those considerations in mind.