Write like a human being
You want your writing to be easily understood, to speak to people who don’t have your expertise, and to be clear and friendly. This isn’t just a style issue for your editor to clean up when you finish: at this level, your style shapes and changes your content. Writing like a human being is so much more than good style: it helps you clarify your ideas, discover new content, and offer clear, powerful help. One of my clients tapped a whole new seam of coaching, when we worked on her writing style. Another developed two new all-day workshops. There’s gold in them thar hills.
In Month 2 of the Springboard programme, we work on GREAT WRITING, GREAT CONTENT. The exact topics we cover vary from client to client: it’s one-to-one coaching, and each person’s needs are slightly different. We may work on sharing the how, writing great coaching questions, models and metaphors… but when it comes to the texture of the writing, problems usually fall into one of three categories: too much jargon, too formal, or too chatty. The jargon or formality are where writing becomes inhuman.
Business language tends towards abstracts: “leverage” a situation, “empower our client base”, and so on. The person reading it can think, “What does that even mean? How are you doing that? In the real world of human beings, what does that even look like?” The actual meaning hides behind the words. To keep it real, use human words for tangible things: things we can see, touch.
Are you writing like a human being or like an assimilated corporate drone?
Many of the standard go-to business words invite this kind of corporate meaninglessness, where entire sentences can actually say nothing. Here’s a list of words that are on my shoot-to-kill list:
- solutions (just so vague)
- utilise (humans say “use”)
- retooling (unless you are remaking tools)
- leverage (unless there is a lever)
- driving (unless there is a car)
- drilling down (unless there are drills)
Shifting from vague, inhuman language back to how real humans speak to each other will transform your content.
I explore each of the key style issues in separate articles: jargon, formality, and chattiness. As general practice, the best thing you can do is write your blog. The practice of writing regular short pieces, for real human beings who’ll read them, helps you resolve a lot of those issues. (If you’re working on your book, keeping your readers in mind helps too.) If you’d like help with your style, let’s look at a month or two of coaching.