Top tips for writers and speakers

by Halina St James

It’s that time of year when we start making lists. My colleagues on the communications panel for the International Institute of Business Analysts are no exception.

Patricia Davies, Julian Sammy and I just compiled our pick-of-the-year tips for our pre-Christmas webinar. I thought I’d share them with readers of this blog:

Hats off to Ari

We all agreed that one of the great philosophers, Aristotle, understood the power of effective communication. Logos, the ability to be logical, and Pathos, the ability to connect to your audience, were two important lessons from Aristotle that apply today – whether you’re speaking or writing.

Read in order to write

Patricia, the writing expert, said you need to keep reading in order to write well. Patricia recommended these books:

  • Why People Email So Badly & How To Do It Better, by David Shipley and Will Schwalbe.
  • On Writing Well, by William Zinsser
  • Common Errors in English Usage, by Paul Brians

Practice makes perfect

One of my big tips was to make speaking a habit. Speaking is a soft skill that packs a powerful punch when done properly. It will enhance your self-esteem and drive you up the career ladder – but you must practice. Look for any opportunity to speak, get coaching guidance, and practice, practice, practice.

Getting what you want

Do your emails and letters get the outcomes you desire? Patricia shared these tips for getting the results you want:

  • State your needs clearly
  • Explain why a request is urgent
  • Express conclusions before giving background
  • Stick to one request per email
  • Remember people are not mind-readers – give them a route map

Trust your instincts

When you ‘read’ an audience you use your eyes and your ears. But do you use your gut? I encourage people to activate their gut-ometer, that wonderful built-in device that – if you heed it – can really help you tune in to your audiences.

Keep learning

You’re good – but how do you get better? How do you develop strategies for life-long learning. Julian spoke about how sometimes people spend too much time looking for reinforcement of what they already know, rather than seeking something new. And Patricia reminded us of a quote from Julian Barling at Queen’s University School of Business: “The best adult education is what you learn from each other.” My contribution was simple: never stop being interesting in the world around you.

Breaking down barriers

In our October webinar we tackled intergenerational communication. How to handle Gen-Xers, Gen-Yers and boomers in the same environment. Julian said that we all can (and need to) teach each other. Patricia said we have to remember ‘we’re all in this together’. And I suggested that we all need to empathize, put ourselves in the other person’s shoes, and see things from another point of view – especially before we speak.

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