Wanting more confidence in people’s writing skills

Likely impact

Four challenges can arise with this issue

  1. it takes longer than it otherwise might to write copy for communications.
  2. you (or the un-confident author) don’t feel able to stand up for a particular way of expressing an idea when someone wants to change it.
  3. some communications may take longer to get approved
  4. some communications may end up being less effective than they otherwise would be.

Likely causes

There are five possibilities here. Any un-confident writers may not yet have…

  1. …learned the basic techniques they need to be effective writers
  2. …learned the technical terminology which would enable them to discuss how and why they’ve written something in a particular way
  3. …understood the unconscious processes driving not only their own gut reactions to what they’ve written – but also those of anyone who’s questioning their writing
  4. …realised that it may be nothing to do with their ability to string a sentence together. Many folk end up staring at blank screens not because they’re unsure about how to write something, but because they’re unclear about what needs writing in the first place. The problem lies not in their writing ability but the briefing process.
  5. …a set of complete language standards to follow. That means other (often more senior) people can undermine a perfectly good piece of writing based on their own subjective opinions.

Potential solutions

  1. There are plenty of books you can turn to for the technical terminology. And you can’t really go wrong with Oxford University Press. Being able to cite one of their publications is a sure-fire way to take the wind out of the sails of even the most determined pedant. Our go-to publication for decades has been: Fowler’s Dictionary of Modern English Usage.
  2. If your organisation doesn’t yet have a comprehensive set of DFVP language standards, it would unquestionably benefit from you introducing and disseminating one.
  3. For everything else it’s probably best to rely on training.

Things to consider for your wish-list

A potential role for training

  1. There are plenty of courses teaching the basics – should any of your team have that need. It may even be possible to use e-learning for this.
  2. You can also learn a set of DFVP language standards
  3. It may also help to learn a DFVP process for taking IC briefs.

Beyond training you’ll also need

  1. Time to practise this learning, so you and your team can deliver maximum ROI.
  2. A mandate to use these practices in all relevant circumstances

Where those solutions could take you

No matter what someone’s current confidence level, these solutions can help them move to a place of confidence in their writing ability which is not only all but unshakeable but (and this is the really cool bit) justifiably so.

Likely business benefits…

…for you

You and your colleagues will be able to get through the work with maximum efficiency. And the quality of what you produce will be exceptional. You’ll also be able to discriminate between valid and invalid suggestions for copy changes. This can reduce unnecessary time wasting, and boost the reputation of your team. It can also enhance your working relationships with all your team’s clients.

…for your employer

Because every communication will hit home with everybody it needs to, your organisation’s internal audiences are far more likely to be responding as they need to.