Do you see yourself as a writer? If not, it’s time to change that perception. Because you are one. In fact, everyone is.
We almost only communicate in the written form these days. Our careers truly depend on it.
Do you know the feeling of going back and forth with someone who misunderstood your email or text message? How about writing website copy that no one responds to? Or, resumes and cover letters that get zero response?
Everyday writing has only one goal: Get people to act. You want attention, a job, money, or whatever it is that you’re trying to get with your words.
And when you get what you want with writing, it’s effective. So, let’s talk about two tips that can help you with that.
1. Stop Using Standard Phrases
The first thing that I had to unlearn when I came out of college was academic writing. Just like business writing, it’s not how humans interact with each other.
Our writing is often unclear and doesn’t sound like us at all. For instance, when’s the last time you said these phrases?
- In order to
- That is to say
- To that end
- What’s more
- In conclusion
Or, how about these business phrases:
- As per your request
- Please be advised
- Yours truly
- Please do not hesitate to contact me
- Please note that
- I am writing you to inform you that
- In reply to your request
- I’m pleased to announce
- We regret to inform you that
- Dear Sir
- Dear Madam
It’s all meaningless, empty, faceless.
You can cut out all the above stuff (unless you’re a lawyer or work in an extremely formal industry). It’s just not effective because people will think you’re a robot, or worse, not understand what you’re asking for.
If you want to write in a way that will make people take action after reading, you want to sound like a real-life human.
Here’s a rule of thumb: If you don’t use it when you speak, don’t use it in your writing.
2. Always Edit for Visual Appeal
Let’s talk about something that has nothing to do with words. The way writing looks also determines how effective it is.
Most writing looks something like this (not only emails):
The problem is that we live in a ‘scan’ economy. People skim everything before they read it.
Before you look at something, you want to know if it’s any good, useful, or important. More like this:
Unless you’re an academic, journalist, or someone who’s writing a book, you want your writing to look easily digestible. That means:
- Hit enter after every two to three sentences
- Use bullet points for explaining things
- Bold text you want people to notice
Writing that looks predictable and boring doesn’t move people.
The key is never to overdo it. Editing for visual appeal means variety. Switch it up, use different formatting. You can apply this strategy to almost everything—articles, emails, reports, or cover letters.
We’re all writers. We write text messages, emails, blogs, landing pages, FAQs, reports. Our careers depend on the effectiveness of our words. These two tips will (hopefully) encourage your recipients to take action.
This article was originally published on DariusForoux.com. It has been republished here with permission.
Photo of person on laptop courtesy of Hero Images/Getty Images.
Darius Foroux is the author of Massive Life Success: Live a Stress-Free Life and Achieve Your Goals by Dealing with Anxiety, Stress, and Fear and founder of Procrastinate Zero. He writes at DariusForoux.com, where he uses tested methods and frameworks to share ideas for overcoming procrastination, improving productivity, and achieving more. Join his free newsletter.More from this Author