Writing Skills

Flipping the Scientific Method

by Brittany Moor

I studied science in university, and I had to write a lot. My university experience was filled with lab reports, research papers, formal and informal scientific presentations, proposals, essay questions… the list goes on. To achieve top marks, I was taught that my writing method should mimic the scientific method: present my conclusions and recommendations at the very end of my document. When I started working in the real world, I began to realize this method didn’t work as well as I thought, and I struggled to present myself as a credible professional.

At work, I discovered that my audience, purpose and expectations for writing changed dramatically. I wasn’t trying to impress a faceless teaching assistant and get good grades. The people I wrote to did not care how I did something, or why, and they didn’t always need me to include a bunch of facts, statistics or scientific jargon as background information. They wanted to know what’s in it for them – right up front.

Luckily, my career path led me to Wavelength, and I found a new formula that worked every time, for every business document and presentation. Essentially, I flipped the scientific method on its head. I now consider what my audience needs from me, and I put my conclusions and recommendations – my bottom line – up front. This means there’s a much greater chance my message will engage their interest. It also means I can minimize misunderstanding: when the audience knows what they’re looking for, there’s a much higher chance they’ll find it.

Often, we bury the bottom line at the very end because drafting is a process of discovery, where you clarify your thoughts as you articulate them in words. Through the drafting process, your conclusion or discovery in a first draft becomes a finding or recommendation in later drafts. As you revise and refine your document, much of the body will need to be reframed to support the bottom line. Even when you need to follow a specific template or format, you can still bottom line your document. Consider who your audience is and what they need from your document; what questions will they want answered? Keep these details in mind and use the answers to form your document. Each section and paragraph should start with the bottom line.

Even though the scientific method produces excellent science, it isn’t a reliable communication technique in the real world. By flipping the scientific method, we become credible professionals who engage our audiences and give them what they want

Plain Language for Better Written Communication

written communication skillsby Lesley Nevills

Have you ever had to read a message several times just to understand it? We’ve all been on the receiving end of emails like that, and our impulse is to hit delete. But what if that email includes information you need, or it comes from someone you can’t ignore?

Many writers fall into the trap of writing in a vague and bureaucratic style because they think it makes them sound more formal or professional, but it confuses and challenges the reader. So, if you don’t want your readers to hit delete, use a modern written communication style that engages your reader with a friendly, conversational tone. To be effective, let your human voice come through.

Who would you prefer to work with – Writer A or Writer B? Read more

PBW: An Instructional Design Story

by Jody Bruner

Wavelength is the result of merging two communication skills training companies, IWCC and BrunerBiz. In 2017, we blended our two flagship business writing courses (IWCC’s High Impact Business Writing and Bruner’s Effective Business Writing) to deliver a course that combines the best of each: Professional Business Writing. Creating this new workshop was a great learning experience, and everyone—our team and clients who have piloted the course—is happy with the results.  

This is an instructional design story, in which we share how this redesign revealed what each workshop assumed about the learner, and about reconciling two different approaches to writing.  

Different assumptions about our learners  Read more

Communicating Out: Technical to Non-Technical

 

 

Jody Bruner from Wavelength and David Donaldson from TidalShift, experts in project management, team up to discuss one of our most asked about topics: communicating to non-technical people.

 

Transcription: Read more

Managers: How to Help Make the Learning Stick

by Rachel Eidan

Acquiring new skills, tools and processes happens in the classroom, but making sure that learning is retained depends on changing habits back on the job. And it’s tough to change. Learners are more likely to successfully improve their skills long term when they have a manager who provides the right kind of support. Here are some ways managers can help:

Ask for a one-minute essay describing the main points learned in the course as soon as possible following its completion. Learning retention is time-sensitive, so be sure you ask for this promptly. Writing helps consolidate key points and clarify the learning. Learners should post a printout of this somewhere for a few days and give it a quick re-read whenever they have a moment. Read more

How to Create Perfect Documents Every Time

proofreading tips

by Jody Bruner

No matter how good you are at what you do, documents with grammar mistakes will erode your corporate and personal credibility.

Proofreading is challenging for a couple of reasons. First, the mind tends to substitute correct words, “seeing” what was intended or what should be there instead of what is actually there. This tendency accounts for errors such as “She’s form Britain.”

Second, most of us tend to read far too quickly to spot all errors on a line of text. When we read at a normal pace, we fixate on a line of text in three or four places. We can only really see about six characters with each fixation, and everything else is picked up with our peripheral vision, which gets less and less accurate the further it is from the center. Read more

Is Your Social Media Persona Professional?

professionalism on social mediaThis is a guest blog written by Kim McLaughlin from Lyra Communications. Lyra is a social media company, that provides strategy, execution and consulting services for both consumer and professional service firms to help them retain existing clients and acquire new ones.

 

Emojis, exclamation marks, acronyms and kittens – the world of social media has turned the traditional rules of business writing on their heads.

Back in the day, the rules of writing were clearly defined given a company’s industry, target market and the preferences of its executives. But today those rules are blurred and there is often little difference between the kind of copy we see from a bank and an online jewelry store for teens.
Read more

Email Writing Tips That Save Time

email writingby Leigh Geraghty

Email is arguably the biggest success story of the Internet, and it’s no wonder! Consider its many benefits: email is fast, easy to use, convenient and inexpensive. However, all this convenience can backfire on us if we end up spending too much time writing, reading and managing emails.

Here are some writing tips that will save time for both you and your readers:

Read more

Tips for Learning Homophones 

confused by homophones

by Jody Bruner

Lots of good writers have difficulty with homophones—words that sound alike, but have different meanings and spelling. Hear and here is one example—there are lots more.

Spelling and grammar checkers have come a long way but are still fallible, especially when it comes to homophones. The  Spell Checker poem, which has been circulating since 1991, illustrates how a spell checker can be fooled. Go ahead and give it a try, your spell checker will only pick up two or three errors. Here are the first three stanzas: Read more

How Yoga Can Improve Your Writing Skills

by Lesley Nevills

When I first started practicing yoga, I had a lot of preconceived notions about what I could do physically. One teacher introduced me to a concept called beginner’s mind where you let go of assumptions and open yourself up to learning new ways of doing things. For example, the first time I tried to do a handstand, I worried that I didn’t have enough upper body strength to hold the pose. When I approached the handstand with a beginner’s mind, I let go of my fear and followed my teacher’s instructions step by step. Before I knew it, I was doing a handstand.

We can learn a lot by adopting a similar approach to our writing. By questioning assumptions about what you can say and what your readers need, your writing is more likely to be clear, concise and persuasive.

Here are some tips to help you apply the beginner’s mind to your writing: Read more

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