Language proficiency and writing skill affect a person’s ability to succeed in their workplace and to obtain employment in the first place – as reported by C Aschliman of the Virginia Commonwealth University. Aschliman’s thesis reviews a host of studies, two of which have identified specific elements that are particularly important to good communication: organization of ideas, conciseness, clarity, and grammar. Studies by Williams and Comb (1993) have shown that the majority of teachers are dissatisfied with their student’s writing; they also indicate that many employers also deem employees unprepared in this sense. Teachers wishing to hone their writing ability (or that of their students) can focus on small changes that can make a big difference in terms of clarity and effectiveness of communication.
Professionals in careers such as journalism, which rely heavily on text-based communication, spend a full year of their degrees learning to organize ideas efficiently. In a typical news article, for instance, components such as the title, lead, subheadings, and additional information need to be correctly positioned in order to capture and maintain the reader’s attention. Although persuasive, narrative and other types of writing vary greatly in style and purpose, students can still benefit from learning how to position information in terms of importance. After all, most business writing is heavily centered on summarizing key points and presenting them in a logical fashion.
Using A Skeleton Or Content Plan
A skeleton or plan can help students to organize their thoughts and plan contents in a more effective manner. These days, business people and those working in the sciences, engineering, media, and other industries often publish content across various media. For instance, valuable text can be repurposed into everything from podcasts to audio and video files for social media channels. These channels can also be used to inspire audiences to provide their contact details in exchange for additional information (such as white papers, eBooks, or the results of surveys of studies). Creating a skeleton – or better yet, an infographic – can help keep writers focused on key points that need to be covered across different media. This infographic can itself be offered as a lead magnet in exchange for a subscription, email, or other information provided by target audiences.
Reading Content Out Loud
For shorter pieces of content such as blog posts, social media text, or scripts for short videos, it can help to read text out loud, especially if one does not have a sub-editor to check for errors. Reading out loud can help writers spot problems with punctuation and repetition. It can also help to make key changes to any content that will be spoken out loud to an audience. Problems identified may include long sentences, words that can be replaced with simpler/clearer choices, and problematic ‘cut and paste’ sections.
Taking The Reader’s Standpoint
After writing a blog post, article, or essay, it pays to let text ‘sit’ for a few hours and, if possible, a full day (or more) to come back to it with a fresh perspective. Distancing oneself from a text can help identify errors and discover problems such as ineffective paragraph order, odd phrasing, and grammatical errors. To reduce error rates and improve clarity of language, it is important to use simple English and to avoid long paragraphs, as well as to reduce your reliance on the passive voice. Tools like Grammarly can help identify long sentences, repetitions, and confusing structures that can be easily fixed by dividing long sentences into two. Writers can also consider using bullet points, images, headers, and other means of breaking up long paragraphs of text into shorter ones.
Content writing is important for professionals in a wide range of industries. These days, text writers also need to be savvy at producing video and audio content, and clarity of language is therefore more important than ever. Just a few tips to improve writing include organizing ideas, making a plan or infographic, reading content out loud, and above all, putting oneself in the reader’s shoes – even if this means taking a break and coming back to the text later.