To this day I am astounded (and befuddled) by the number of highly credentialed senior managers who come across as less than stellar in their writing.  In not-so-gentle terms, they end up looking like teenagers texting friends versus the knowledgeable and competent professionals they are. Avoid the inglorious label by adopting a few essential writing rules- all of which can be easily implemented between breakfast and lunch.

According to LinkedIn (and its ONE BILLION members), communication ranks #1 when it comes to today’s most critical business skills.

For many workers today, in-person collaboration has given way to hybrid work where the ever-expanding requirement to communicate across channels and platforms is the expectation. This raises the bar considerably for leaders who want to be more effective in their writing.  Clearer messaging in email, on collaboration channels or in the Chat feature of virtual meeting platforms, can go a long way in helping you connect and influence team members.

If you want to be a more influential leader, try these Top 10 Tips to upskill your writing:

  1. Be Clear and Concise. Include Context.
    Keep messages to the point to avoid misunderstandings. Provide background information to ensure everyone has the same basis of context. When writing for a larger audience, ensure the utmost in clarity. Take your message for a “test drive” with a respected colleague (or with your AI technology app).
  2. Use Proper Subject Lines
    Clearly indicate the topic or purpose of the message in the subject line. Insert key actions and dates like “Urgent: Acme Customer Prop Due 4pm PST Today, June 9”.
  3. Address One Topic at a Time
    Avoid “piggybacking” topics (addressing more than one key topic in a message). Heaping one topic on another can dilute focus and confuse readers.
  4. Be Responsive
    Respond to messages in a timely manner to maintain efficiency. Avoid the appearance of ghosting members.
  5. Personalize When Possible
    Use team members’ names and address specific points relevant to them. Even though members are not in-person, they still want to be recognized personally… they want to know they matter.
  6. Set Expectations
    Clearly state the required action and deadlines. Be sensitive to time zone constraints.
  7. Format with Subtitles, Bullet Points and White Space
    Organize information in relevant information “chunks” by inserting a subtitle (bolded) followed by a few bullet points. For greater readability, create visual white space by inserting a blank line between data segments. This helps the reader visually organize the info presented, rather than trying to distill key thoughts presented in a paragraph.
  8. Proofread
    Check for typos and clarity before sending messages. Even simple messages can end up causing others to trip if the screen is screaming poor vocabulary choice or confusing syntax.
  9. Adjust Tone
    Write in a tone that reflects the level of importance or urgency in your messaging. In general, adopt a positive tone to boost morale and engagement.
  10. Use Emojis Sparingly
    Add a touch of friendliness but remain professional by going easy on the emojis.

As a parting tip, spend a few bucks and purchase Woe is I – The Grammarphobe’s Guide to Better English in Plain English by Patricia T. O’Conner. You’ll be writing more gooder in no time at all!