February 25th, 2020
Last week I ran a writing workshop on behalf of the Institute of Internal Communication (IoIC). On my way I asked people to share their top writing tips on Twitter and LinkedIn. The response was overwhelming. People generously shared so much good advice that others could benefit from, so I’ve collated them all here in this blog.
If you have additional tips, feel free to share in the comments. And if you’re looking for writing support, I run workshops with the IoIC and also work with teams and people on a 121 basis to help them improve their writing capabilities.
Top tips from the internal communications community:
It doesn’t need to be perfect first time. That’s what editing is for. Get your ideas down on paper first- however choatic- and then work it through.
Also: feedback isn’t personal! The more you open up for feedback, the better writer you’ll become.
Hope the workshop is fab! pic.twitter.com/pjFF6ZPDko
— Zofia Skrakowski (@ZofiaMS) February 20, 2020
Two things. Read your copy out aloud and get a friend or colleague to read it and give feedback.
— Noel Armstrong (@noeltarmstrong) February 20, 2020
Most of the time you don’t need to use the word ‘that’. It massively slows writing down.
— Billy Hamilton (@BHamiltonWords) February 20, 2020
Write like you are telling someone the football results… start with most important bit (who won) rather than how the game began.
— Julie Mazzei (@JulieMazzei) February 20, 2020
I always say to people “you can’t edit a blank page”, so just get it down. Then come back to it and work on it.
— JoPRComms (@JoPRComms) February 20, 2020
Write everything you want to say. Count the words. Cut it in half. Clean it up. Count the words. Cut it in half again.
— Chuck Gose (@chuckgose) February 20, 2020
Don’t procrastinate when faced with that blank sheet of paper. Get something down – no matter how bad. Then you can start refining and polishing it.
— Bob Hammond (@BobHammond2) February 20, 2020
Something I try to avoid are ‘weasel words’ – words and phrases that may look superficially impressive but which don’t add anything to your copy and which can be downright vague and ambiguous. There’s some good info about these on Wikipedia. https://t.co/imj86DrSzS
— Bob Hammond (@BobHammond2) February 20, 2020
Still try to apply George Orwell’s advice never to use a phrase you’ve seen in print elsewhere… eliminates a lot of cliches & jargon
— LiamFitz (@LiamFitz) February 20, 2020
If you’ve become too familiar with your draft, start at the last paragraph and work your way up to edit it. Our brains are brilliant at filling in gaps with repetition and expectation, which means we’re more likely to miss mistakes. pic.twitter.com/k1Jd28epwf
— Vanessa Weddell (@nesser00) February 20, 2020
Don’t use two words when one will do
— Verity Cash (Chart.PR) (@alphabetcomm) February 20, 2020
13 words to a sentence. Max. Any longer and it just gets too hard to digest.
— Lara (@larajdono) February 20, 2020
Read it out loud to yourself to proof it – or use one of the built-in screen reader options to read it to you.
Also, don’t rely on FAQs to answer the things people actually need to know – use THEM to proof your work, then bin them, probably 80% of the time
— Lisa Riemers (@lisariemers) February 20, 2020
At the top of every word document I put the title, purpose and audience. It helps remind me the point of the Comms and stops that blank page feeling
— Rachel (@blinking_bears) February 20, 2020
Keep re-reading your copy and continually edit your own work. Make sure your content answers every question a reader might have.
— James Varley (@jvarleyqatar) February 20, 2020
Write like people talk.
— Jason Anthoine (@JasonAnthoine) February 20, 2020
Read it out loud back to yourself.
— Adeeba Hussain (@Adeeba_Hussain) February 20, 2020
Just start writing. Put pen to paper and just capture your thoughts without worrying about how it sounds. Then use that as your first draft to build from. The hardest part of writing can be just to start! Also at the end… Cut, cut, cut!
— Lauren Rowe (@MissLRowe) February 20, 2020
Defining the core of what you want to say, to whom, and what you want them to think or do as a result.
— Inside Comms (@Inside_Comms) February 20, 2020
The best tip I have ever been given is to write your copy line, cut it down by half and then cut it down again! Keep everything punchy and powerful!
— Louise Russell (@LouiseRussell94) February 20, 2020
Plan it first so you have a few notes to expand on and get someone else to proof read your final copy. Betting they will find the ‘deliberate error’!
— Anna Rainbow (@Springback_pr) February 21, 2020
— Snoozeman (@Sarahne58878831) February 20, 2020
You can also read the 56 comments I received on my LinkedIn post.