Why Executives Should Master the Art of Writing
The Power of the Pen is Still Mighty
In the frenzied arena of executive decision-making, filled with emails, meetings, and conference calls, the significance of adept writing often goes unnoticed. Many harbor the misconception that the art of writing is exclusive to authors, journalists, and poets. Yet, in the contemporary corporate sphere, the pen’s impact is undeniable. Analytical giants, wielding silver quills like Scott Galloway not only make their mark but also amass their fortunes through it. Imagine if you could command that kind of attention with your internal coms?
And sure, I’m a professional writer and ghostwriter. It may seem like this essay is akin to a coder advising me to script my own software. But bear with me. We’re embarking on an enlightening journey where the artistry of words intertwines with the precision of science — and the good news is, if you can read these words, you, too, can write sentences. With some practice, these sentences will pose a nice return on your investment.
Recent insights shared by the Harvard Business Review are nothing short of revelatory. Advanced brain scans now vividly depict the magnetic pull of compelling writing on its readers. We can observe specific midbrain neurons — the “reward circuit” — ignite as readers encounter everything from a poignant metaphor to a twist in the narrative. This insight accentuates a profound reality: Effective writing, be it a succinct email or a comprehensive report, can relate to readers at a core level, triggering a rush of pleasure in their brains.
Bill Birchard, a renowned author and writing coach who has guided countless business magnates, offers a deeper perspective. Drawing upon his extensive expertise and thorough exploration of recent scientific literature, Birchard identifies eight elements that define captivating writing.
Termed the “eight S’s”, they encompass simplicity, specificity, surprise, stirring language, seductiveness, smart ideas, social content, and storytelling.
For the discerning executive, let’s extract the essence of these insights:
Clarity in Thought and Action: Transparent writing mirrors lucid thinking. If you can’t express it succinctly, it’s time to try again. And again. As good chefs know reduce, reduce, reduce makes for better broth.
Building Trust: In an era of valuing transparency, cogent communication stands as your beacon. Mold your messages to foster trust and assurance. I have found that strangely, I build trust with readers when I reveal mistakes and detail how I fixed them. Management can stand to do that once in a while, too.
Expanding Influence: Understand the clout of platforms like Medium or “All the Fits That’s News”. An eloquent piece can magnify your presence in the corporate arena by giving readers the benefit of your experience, insights, and observations.
Flexibility in Tone: Distinguish yourself by navigating various tones, from formal to relaxed, ensuring your audience’s consistent engagement. I find that my writing is best received when I am somewhere between formal and relaxed; the way I would be at work in the breakroom, instead of the boardroom or heaven forbid, the restroom.
The Ripple Effect: Prioritizing writing at the leadership echelons sets a precedent. It fosters an organizational culture that cherishes adept communication. Remember: staff tends to prioritize what leadership prioritizes.
Writing isn’t merely a skill — it’s an art. Like all artistic endeavors, it enriches the creator and the admirer alike. For an executive, having a vision is pivotal; articulating that vision is equally vital. To the leaders reading this, while I would love your patronage, if you’ve been neglecting your writing prowess, it’s high time to reignite that spark. Your boardroom, stakeholders, and workforce will undoubtedly benefit.
That said…if you ever need assistance with your business book, speeches, or other significant projects, don’t hesitate to reach out.
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