The unexpected benefits of learning to write

June 1st, 2017

In a recent survey, managers were asked to identify the biggest skills gap individuals face between college and the workplace. Was it coding? Data analysis? Speaking a foreign language?

All made it on the list. But what was at the top? A way with words.

Perhaps the reason managers value writing skills so highly is that they’re highly transferable to other aspects of the workplace.

Check out my post on the Udemy for Business blog to discover five unexpected benefits of training your employees to write.

United Airlines: how not to write an apology

April 11th, 2017

Airplane with blood spatter
Did you see United Airlines’ response to that shocking footage of a passenger being dragged off a plane? It’s worth reading as a textbook example of how not to write an apology. Read the rest of this entry »

Sentence structure: How to make your sentences much easier to read

February 14th, 2017

Drawing of scientist holding a beaker

These extracts say the same thing but using a different sentence structure. Which one do you find easier to read?

Version 1

The use of polymers to produce prosthetic heart valves that have the positive attributes of current commercial and mechanical valves without any of their drawbacks, has been a focus of research since the 1950s. (34 words)

 

Version 2

Since the 1950s, scientists have been trying to use polymers to produce prosthetic heart valves that have the positive attributes of current commercial and mechanical valves, but without any of their drawbacks. (32 words)

 

The subject matter is the same. The language is equally technical. The sentences are of similar lengths (in fact, both are longer than the maximum length I would recommend for business writing).

Yet most people would say version 2 is far easier to get through. But why? To find out, we need to look closely at the sentence structure of each. Read the rest of this entry »

Empathy mapping: How to get inside your reader’s head

January 20th, 2017

Empathy mapping: cartoon of map with the word 'empathy' written on it

‘Who is my reader?’

It’s the first question any professional writer asks herself – or her client – before she sits down to write. Read the rest of this entry »

How your culture shapes the way you write

October 7th, 2016

cartoon of a world globe and restaurant cloche

We all agree that business writing should be clear, concise and direct, right? As any business writing expert – myself included – will tell you, you need to keep things simple, get straight to the point and ditch the jargon.

But what you may not know – and what many business writing experts also fail to realise – is that this attitude to writing is not universal.

In fact, the idea that you should ‘keep things simple, stupid’ is culturally determined. For many writers whose first language isn’t English, the idea that ‘clarity is king’ is greeted with surprise. Read the rest of this entry »