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February 13, 2008

5 Ways To Put Some Heart Into Your Business Writing

Can you see a place for more heart in your business writing?

It's okay, I haven't gone crazy. Although this week's podcast (3 mins 42 secs) is inspired by Valentine's Day and the inevitability of writing something with a heart-shaped theme, I'm not talking slushy fluffy writing here, throwing in a dose of sentimentality or even wearing your heart on your sleeve. 

I'm talking about things you can do in order to:

  • Establish a powerful sense of connection
  • Create rapport with your readers (employees, colleagues, peers, managers, customers, clients)
  • Make your experience of writing at work more enjoyable

I've come up with 5 H.E.A.R.T. shaped ways you can warm up your writing by being:

Human Write as a human being, not a manager, business owner or employee - it'll help you to soften your writing, make you sound more approachable and engaging

Everyday Try and find the plainest, most everyday words for the thing that you're writing about.  It'll help you to connect to the widest number of people - and make you a real master of your subject (most people don't ever bother to do this)

Attentive Focus on the point of the particular piece of writing you're doing.  In an information overloaded world it's easy to be slapdash - but worth spending the time getting clear on who you're writing for and why.  Think about what your readers want to know, what difference your words can make

Real Look for ways to ground your business-speak -in your own experience, in the specifics of what needs to be said and done, in ordinary language that will connect, easily, with your reader

True We can write from a powerful place when we write what we know, believe, feel to be true.  It's easy then for our words to be heart-felt.  If you're noticing a gap between what you're writing and what you hold as true - you'll feel it, you'll be uncomfortable writing at work, and your words won't ring true.  Look to see how you can align what you're writing with your personal and business values, the purpose and intention that drives and supports your work

Do you think there's a place for heart in business writing?  Do you have any tips and suggestions for ways to make it so?

You can listen to the podcast by following this link or going to my gcast page.

Related posts:

Word Power At Work: Fighting The Zombies (+podcast)

Create A Connection At Work: Writing With 'Ohana

+ an archive of business writing tips to explore

Are you looking for help with the writing you do at work?  I'm offering readers of Confident Writing  a 10% discount on my writing critiques and writing mentoring programmes during February.  Contact me if you're interested.

Joanna Young, The Confident Writing Coach
Because our words count


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Lovely piece, Joanna. It really calls to what I'm trying to do with my own writing. One the things that I struggle with the most is using everyday language, as I find it so easy to slip into formalised, academic prose. As long as I'm conscious of it, I know that can edit it out on my rewrite. I know some of it still slips through, though!
Really excellent tips, Joanna.

Hi Amy, it certainly takes practice to write in an everyday style - and it can take us a while to throw off other styles whether that's business-speak, academic writing or rigid grammar rules we learned at school. But it's fun to practice!


Hi Joanna - this is a great piece. I get so many rubbishy business letters through my door. How annoying is is to spend thousands of pounds with a company and they can't even be bothered to personalise the letter?

I try to make the letters I send out as personal as possible. I try to be brief - and as you say, no silly business language or flowery stuff. And I focus on what's in it for the customer - not me.

Catherine, make it personal is good advice (but wouldn't have fitted into my spelling of heart!).

That doesn't have to mean over-familiar (I'm sure I'm not alone in getting bugged by that) or as you say over-flowery.

It means focusing on the connection between you, and the value you can add for the person who's reading your words.


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