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Write like a Boss - Challenge #6




Better Said Newsletter 006

Read time: 6 minutes

Topics covered: Effective Writing, Time Management, Purpose-driven Process


Welcome to the second focus on communication for this year! I’ve chosen writing as our topic of focus because it is one of those tasks that everyone has to do but no one highlights as the favourite part of their day. Instead, it is often a chore that is procrastinated until it’s almost too late. 


You end up either spending way more time and energy than you want, producing something of poor quality or both. 


I want to get you to the opposite. You may HAVE to do the writing but we may as well make it as painless as possible and get you to get something out of it. 


TL;DR


Make writing a valuable piece of your life rather than a chore. You’ll improve efficiency by defining your purpose and mapping out content to creating a draft, taking breaks, and refining through editing. By adopting this strategic approach, you not only save time but also produce more impactful and purpose-driven communication.


This week's challenge:

  • Purpose-Driven Email Exercise - Craft an email with a clear purpose and specific objectives before sending it out this week.

  • Before drafting the email, 

  • identify the purpose (educate, convince, inform) and 

  • outline the key points. 


Pay attention to the organization, formatting, and language to ensure it aligns with your defined purpose.


In the fast-paced environment of the modern workplace, effective communication through writing is a skill that can set you apart. Whether you are drafting reports, composing emails, or documenting crucial information, having a purpose-driven approach can significantly enhance your writing effectiveness.


I'll guide you through the process of re-evaluating and optimizing your workplace writing, helping you achieve your goals with clarity and precision.


The Process


1. Define Your Purpose


Lego man smiling
Understand and get into the mind of your audience.


Before putting pen to paper or fingers to the keyboard, take a moment to clearly define your purpose. Are you aiming to educate, convince, or document information for future reference? Understanding your objective will guide every aspect of your writing, from the information you include to the organization and formatting of your document.


How do you want your audience to walk away feeling? What do you want them to do?


Once you have a purpose, it will be easy for you to make all future decisions when it comes to writing. 


2. Map Out Your Content


Sort out your thoughts like you would sort out the edge piece of your puzzle.

Rather than diving straight into writing, invest time in outlining your content. 


Identify the key points, details, and supporting information that align with your purpose. This may seem like an additional step, but having a well-structured plan will save you time in the long run. It provides a roadmap for your writing, ensuring a logical flow and coherence in your final piece.


Rather than thinking about what you are leading into, you’ll already have a map, making it easier to get to your destination. 


3. Create a Draft Without Overthinking


With your outline in hand, start fleshing out each point without getting bogged down by grammar or word choice initially. Allow yourself to freely express your ideas and thoughts. This unfiltered approach often leads to a more natural and engaging writing style. 


As you progress, you'll find that you enter a flow state, making the writing process more enjoyable and efficient.


4. Take a Break


Stepping away from the piece will help you look at it with fresh eyes. Some people like to step away for a day, others take a literal step by leaving their workspace; I personally will do another task then come back after completing it. 


The most important things is that you stop thinking about it and concentrate on something else.


5. Refine Through Editing


Sharpen the picture now that you have a rough draft.


Put on your editor hat and get critical. What is missing? What is confusing? 


Turn on the spelling and grammar tools to catch any mistakes you may have made. 

Refine your writing by addressing grammar, word choice, and overall clarity. You might discover that you have more coherent content than you initially thought, streamlining the editing process.


By adopting this strategic approach to workplace writing, you'll not only save time but also produce more impactful and purpose-driven communication. 


Now let’s see this in action. How does it practically change your way of writing depending on the scenario?


Training Manual vs. Executive Summary


You've been assigned to create a comprehensive training manual for a new software rollout within your department. Additionally, you need to distil the key findings and recommendations from a recent project into an executive summary for higher-level executives. These tasks require different levels of detail and formality. 


Training Manual:


1. Define Your Purpose (Approx. 5-7 minutes)


Objective: Provide a clear and comprehensive guide for employees to successfully navigate the new software rollout.


Purpose: Educate and empower employees to effectively use the software, minimising learning curves and potential issues.


2. Map Out Your Content (Approx. 20-30 minutes)


Section 1: Introduction

  • Overview of the new software

  • Importance of the training manual


Section 2: Getting Started

  • System requirements

  • Access and login instructions


Section 3: Main Features and Functions

  • In-depth explanation of each feature

  • Step-by-step instructions with visuals


Section 4: Troubleshooting and FAQs

  • Common issues and their solutions

  • Frequently asked questions

Logical Flow: Arrange sections in a sequence that mirrors the user's learning process.


Visuals: Integrate screenshots, diagrams, and flowcharts for visual clarity.


Consistency: Maintain a consistent tone and style throughout the manual.



3. Create a Draft Without Overthinking (Approx. 3 hours)


Free-Writing: Write initial drafts for each section without worrying about perfection.

Elaboration: Expand on each point, ensuring clarity and completeness.


4. Take a break


5. Refine Through Editing (Approx. 3 hours)


Proofreading: Check for grammatical errors and typos.


Usability Testing: Share the draft with a small group for feedback on clarity and user-friendliness.


Executive Summary:


1. Define Your Purpose (Approx. 5-7 minutes)


Objective: Summarize the key findings and recommendations from a recent project for executives.


Purpose: Provide a concise overview that allows executives to make informed decisions without delving into extensive project details.


2. Map Out Your Content (Approx. 8-10 minutes)


Section 1: Project Overview

  • Brief background of the project

  • Objectives and scope


Section 2: Key Findings

  • Highlight critical data and insights

  • Identify trends or patterns


Section 3: Recommendations

  • Outline proposed actions based on findings

  • Align recommendations with strategic goals


Executive Language: Use language suitable for a high-level audience.

Highlighting Impact: Emphasize the impact of findings and the potential benefits of recommended actions.


3. Create a Draft Without Overthinking (Approx. 20-30 minutes)


Clarity First: Focus on communicating key points clearly.


4. Take a Break


5. Refine Through Editing (Approx. 7-9 minutes)


Executive Feedback: Seek feedback from colleagues or mentors in executive roles.


Fine-Tuning: Edit for brevity, ensuring the summary remains impactful.


Mastering workplace writing is not merely a task to be checked off; it's a strategic approach that can elevate your communication skills and set you apart in the professional arena. 


This week’s Challenge:


Purpose-Driven Email Exercise - Craft an email with a clear purpose and specific objectives before sending it out this week.


Before drafting the email, identify the purpose (educate, convince, inform) and outline the key points. Pay attention to the organization, formatting, and language to ensure it aligns with your defined purpose.

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Thanks for reading issue 006 of my weekly Better Said newsletter.


For those of you who are new to my newsletter, Better Said, discusses the following three goals: (1) Elevating crucial soft skills, (2) Reaching career milestones, and (3) Creating ethical leadership.


Here’s how we can stay in touch:


1. You can find me here on LinkedIn and on my website, bettersaid.org

2. If you are curious about working with me, you can book a free consultation where I will help you outline your goals and co-create a growth action plan with you whether or not we decide to work together. 



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