In a world full of email, then SMS, then Twitter-based abbreviations for everything – ttyl, afaik, iirc, rtfm – do good, clean, clear writing skills still matter?
Unquestionably, and without a second’s hesitation, writing certainly matters, not solely for the pedantic nitpickers. Good writing skills greatly affect your business success.
Secret of Success
I once asked a very successful executive what he thought was the single most important factor in his success. I expected to hear creativity, risk-taking, innovation, networking, or perhaps even luck, i.e. happening to be the right person at the right time in the right place.
His answer: “good writing.”
His ability to write clearly and succinctly, appropriately tailored to his audience, enabled him to communicate his ideas, gain adherents and win over colleagues.
I have found, time and again – likely to the great surprise of my many long-suffering English teachers from my school days – that my ability to communicate important thoughts in writing is the most crucial ability I have.
Clearly, the ability to communicate well is important when selling something, whether an idea, a product or a service. But does it matter if you only are buying?
First, allow me to emphasize that everyone is selling, all of the time.
- When you go on a job interview, you are selling your services.
- When you convince your boss to invest, you are selling your idea.
- When an engineer convinces his or her colleagues to implement particular design, that, too, is selling.
However, even if you are just buying, clean, clear writing is crucial.
Early this morning, I met an independent marketing consultant. He explained how he had spent quite a bit of time helping companies rewrite their vendor Requests for Proposals (RFPs). Apparently, many of the RFPs he had seen not only were missing the correct questions, i.e. content, but also were poorly written.
One might ask, why does it matter? After all, if you are buying, let the vendor figure it out.
The problem was precisely that the vendors were figuring it out… to their benefit. The lack of clearly written English created opportunities for vendors to be “creative” about their responses. This, in turn, enabled the purchasers to believe they had received one set of products and services, when they had received another. This is not a bait-and-switch; it simply is the natural result of allowing the other side of a negotiation to frame the definitions of your terms.
Whether you are getting support for a new design, selling to the market, explaining your new strategy, writing up user guides, or just buying technology services, when you write clearly and precisely, you dramatically improve your chances of success… and are treated more professionally.
Are your writings really ready for your audience? Ask us.