Are you forcing your people to write atrociously?

You might not realize it, but if you limit colleagues’ text to ‘safe’ language, they’ll default to corporate lingo, resulting in banal, stilted emails, presentations and promos. Buck that trend.

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Love it or loathe it, if you’re a business leader, you probably review and approve other people’s words—email, presentations, reports, proposals and more.

There are bright spots in this work: moments when you look at a message and say, “Nailed it!”

There is darkness, too: moments when you cringe and sigh, “Not again.”

When a message needs fixing, you litter the page with revision marks or even edit the thing yourself, grumbling all the while about morons who don’t know how to write.

Your people are not morons.

I’ve yet to encounter a business person who cannot write something coherent. I work not just with communicators, but accountants, sales people, engineers, strategy consultants, HR analysts, attorneys, artists, actuaries. Given the latitude to choose their own words, nearly all of them write clear, captivating stories—quickly.

You try. Set a timer for three minutes. Write about your first boss. Use details. Focus on one moment with that person, and describe the scene.

Fun, right? You’d be amazed at the vivid, funny, emotional stories that emerge from this fast, freewheeling exercise.

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