For everyone who uses a computer, writing is a vital business skill. Because so much hinges on written communication, employees need to write clearly, concisely and quickly. To foster engagement and achieve their organization’s goals, they need to spread their energy and passion through the written word.

writing is the productivity elephant in the officeMisunderstanding can cost organizations dearly. The Titanic would not have sunk if the navigator had read the iceberg warnings. Wall Street would not have imploded if people understood the meaning of credit debit swaps and collateralized debt obligations.

Understanding, on the other hand, can clear the path to innovation, change and growth. That’s why tech success stories like Apple don’t talk about robust platforms,  synergies or share-worthiness. They chat like regular people.

The elephant grows

Routine writing, especially email, drains more and more of each work day.  According to a study by the US National Commission on Writing, most employees spend about a third of their day writing. No doubt that proportion is increasing, as we reach out to clients, coworkers and other stakeholders through emails, social media, wikis and other collaborative tools.

The other side of the writing productivity coin is reading. Subpar writing results in other employees or stakeholders spending too much time trying to figure out what a document means or missing out on important information.  A survey by the UK’s Loughborough University found that only about a third of emails were straight to the point.

Suppose an employee composes 30 and reads 60 emails a day for a total of 90 emails. If one minute is wasted on two thirds of them, that’s one hour or more lost every single work day.  And that doesn’t take into account all the other kinds of writing and reading a typical employee does every day. Ouch.

Wrangle the beasts

Businesses wouldn’t expect their employees to start using new software without adequate training. Yet, many organizations want their employees to communicate, collaborate and connect without the writing skills they require.Some provide writing training, but they frequently complain that employees don’t retain much. They’re back to their old habits quickly, rambling on instead of getting to the point, using jargon their customers don’t understand or confusing it’s with its or maybe even writing its’.

To help solve this growing productivity problem, every employee who uses a computer should read my book Write like talk–only better. Better still, if they live in the Greater Toronto Area, they should sign up for one of my workshops.

Write like you talk

My approach works where others fail because it’s based on everyone’s first and favorite way to communicate–talking. As a result, participants will remember what they learned. With worksheets and checklists for practice, they’ll continue to improve.

If you want to learn more about the small-group workshops, check out my new page or contact me and I’ll send you a detailed outline of the options and typical days. Or simply read the book.

You writing will become easier, faster and friendlier. Promise. You’ll wish all those people who send you long, foggy emails would read it too.

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Writing: the productivity elephant in the office

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