Berger Leadership Blog

Aug 29, 2014

Time to hone those writing skills

Curt typing
NAFCU Chief Economist and Director of Research Curt Long hard at work.

From daily emails and memos to the occasional speech or op-ed, most senior executives do some writing as part of their job.

Your written messages – more than your verbal messages – help you to be clearer and more persuasive on your topic. It allows your team to fully understand your mission and where you’re coming from. It also allows for greater accountability – ensuring everyone stays focused on the end goal.

A LinkedIn article on the importance of writing skills notes a tactic used by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. The article states, “Jeff Bezos values writing over talking to such an extreme that in Amazon senior executive meetings, ‘before any conversation or discussion begins, everyone sits for 30 minutes in total silence, carefully reading six-page printed memos.’ ” Bezos says writing out this structured of a memo helps promote clear thinking and always addresses the company’s main tenet – its customers.

While we might not have our senior staff write six-page memos addressing current projects or initiatives before every meeting, Bezos’ point is still valid. Writing helps us, as leaders, become better communicators.

Forbes provides some tips to help improve our business writing skills. They include:

  • Use short, declarative sentences. Cut words when you can and don’t use a longer word if a shorter one will do.
  • Be specific – especially when writing an email.
  • Write in an active voice rather than passive.
  • Be aware of your grammar. Edit what you write before others see it.

 Have a great weekend. Write on!