Self Improvement

Clear Written Communication

Document_Writing_ImgWritten communication is a skill. Like any skill it requires practice and thought. There are many things people need to take into account before attempting any form of written communication. Knowing one’s audience and keeping the possible perceptions or misperceptions of others within our thoughts while writing can be important. Knowing that word choice can change how something is perceived or accepted and using tools like the thesaurus to assist with word choice is vital. Being able to write in a clear fashion so that anyone who comes upon your writing can understand your meaning and have the intended emotional response to it is a skill that requires time, effort, and desire to learn. Learning this skill can help you create more effective writings from Facebook to email to blog posting.

One thing people forget to recognize is the sheer power of words. Every word has specific meaning and many times there are several ways to say what we are trying to portray. If I said “This morning I woke up to half a dozen people talking outside our camper” as opposed to saying “I woke up this morning to 6 people talking outside our camper.” Which one felt more powerful? Which one felt like “OMG that’s a lot of people”? For most people when we say “half a dozen” that is a powerful phrase and it feels like more than 6, even though it isn’t. It’s like the difference between “She has incredible deep blue eyes” and “Her eyes are so blue, it’s like she has two pools upon her face to which I could fall into and get lost.” Really both sentences mean she has deep blue eyes, but the second one creates more of an emotional response. So remember that everything you say has the potential to create a response within the reader. Be sure you choose your words in such a way that the response is what you intended.

The next thing one needs to remember when writing is that readers each have their own unique perception. It helps to know your audience, so that one may write to a specific type. However, we can’t always predict who will be reading our words nor can we alway know another well enough to write toward them. Because this is often the case, it is best to remember that other people’s perception plays a part in how you write. When you read someone else’s writing, do you not give it a voice? Can you hear, in some part of your quiet mind, expression and intonation within the words? I’m sure not everyone does, but a lot do. Remember that people will hear expression, emotion, intonation, and intent within your writing. If you write something that is sarcastic and snide, people will hear that. Sometimes they hear it even when you don’t intend for it. This is why it is so important to remember to choose your words and your wording carefully.

It’s also important to think through what you want to say before you try to say it. Know what you want to accomplish with any piece of writing. If it’s an email, letter, Facebook post, blog entry, instructions to a student, or anything you can think of for written communication, know your intent. What do you need to say? What emotional response are you hoping to create? Why are you writing? Don’t dance around the issue too much. Sometimes it’s helpful to preface what you want to say with something softer or an explanation, but always get to the point and say what you mean. And unless you want it to come across in your writing, NEVER write when emotional. When the writer is in an emotional state that will always come across in word and phrase choice.

Write for clarity. Again, whether it be a email or a 5 page report, write it so that ANYONE could understand. Explain yourself within your writing. Give clear and complete explanation of what you are trying to say. Be detailed with your words. Imagine that the most confused person you’ve ever met is going to read what you’ve written and you want to avoid playing the 100 questions game. Re-explain yourself. Say what you’ve said in a couple of different ways so that if someone doesn’t get it the first time they might the second. Sometimes people need to see things written out in different wording in order to comprehend what they’ve seen. Sometimes the re-explanation can take the unintentional sting out of something that previously felt snide, sarcastic or rude. Writing clearly with explanations and rewordings can make a huge difference in how your written work is perceived and accepted.

Learn to edit your own work. Start by using a program that has a spell check and possibly a grammar check. Keeping your spelling as clean as possible also helps others to accept your work. Editing should go far beyond spell check and grammar concerns though. To properly edit your work, you should be rewording areas that don’t work or that read funny. This is why one should always read their work aloud. If possible read to someone else, because we hear our words very differently through the ears of another. Reading our words aloud, even to oneself, helps us catch wording issues that come across in unintended ways. It helps find spots where we forget an s or need to add the word the. Re-reading one’s words aloud, even if it’s a simple as a Facebook post, should be a habit every writer develops in order to create the intended response within those who will read our writing later.

VoiceWritten communication can be tricky. Learning what kind of voice you have and then creating the one you want can often take time and effort. We each have a unique voice that comes through our written word. The words you choose, the way you choose to put those words together, and the way your sentences fit within your paragraphs, all leaves a unique written fingerprint. Each of us has a written voice that speaks into the minds of our readers as they ingest our words. That voice can be kind and compassionate, angry, sarcastic and snide, or a plethora of other things unique to who we are and how we choose to write. Make your choices carefully so the voice you want is the one your readers hear.

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About Tracy Seekins

Long time writer/blogger. Has been on a lifelong journey for self enrichment. This is a journey which never ends and I look forward to sharing it with you.

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