Storytelling for Business - 12 Tips For Better Business Writing

We seldom remember the last press release we read, but we almost always remember the stories we are told - even the business stories

How do we make our business writing more relatable? How do we become more reader-friendly? One of the best ways to do this is by avoiding jargon and 'corporate speak'. We need to learn to write and speak to our customers in an appealing manner.

Here are 12 storytelling techniques to that will improve your business writing:

  1. Captivate your readers. Entice them with a tale. Don't bore them with acronyms, data and statistics.
  2. Avoid jargon. You and your colleagues may understand what you are saying, but I am certain that no one else does.
  3. Explore the story with your readers. Invite your customers into your world. Be careful not to tell us what you think. Rather show us what happened.
  4. Create a narrative. Don't just write down words. This means you need a story with characters and a beginning, middle and end.
  5. Share anecdotes. Tell your readers about the things that make your company and its staff members human.
  6. Create heroes for us to identify with. Tell us about specific people and how they won the day.
  7. Entertain us. Don't sell to us. When you are promoting your business in a story, never sell anything. The point of the story is to draw people in so that they ask about your product.
  8. Keep us glued to the screen. Don't be dull. Elmore Leonard always said, 'Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.' Only keep the important bits in your story.
  9. Make us uncomfortable. Add some suspense and make us want to find out how it ends.
  10. Keep the story gritty. Give us texture with settings and senses, but don't go into too much detail when you are describing.
  11. Keep it real - people can tell when you're making it up.
  12. Show us the obstacles. Then reveal the solution.

Source for Infographic

    If you want to improve your business writing skills, join us for The Plain Language Programme. Email news@writerswrite.co.za for details.

       by Amanda Patterson. Follow her on  Pinterest,  Facebook,  Google+,  Tumblr  and Twitter. 

       If you enjoyed this article, read these posts:
      1. The Seven Points You Need To Build A Story For Your Business
      2. 93 Extremely Bad Business Writing Habits to Break
      3. Begin at the end - the one essential email trick every business writer should know
      4. The Top Seven Tips for Writing Emails
      5. Persuasive Writing Brainstormer Template

      ~~~~~

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      7 Points You Need To Write A Story For Your Business

      Storytelling for business

      Every time you have something important to talk about in your business, you should be telling your audience a story. People forget statistics and names and events, but they never forget stories. A story is the only way we can activate the parts of the brain that get listeners to relate to us.

      Once we understand the power of stories and accept the need for them in our businesses, we need to learn how to tell them. One of the easiest ways to do this is by using a plot.

      What, exactly, is a plot?

      A plot for a business story usually involves a brand (or a business or a person) and a competitor (or a problem of some kind). All stories need an inciting moment – a moment where something happens that requires the brand to act or to react. When this happens, the brand has to set a new goal. This new goal usually causes upheaval, involves planning and requires change. A story is born from the brand’s reactions to these events.

      To make your business story exciting, you need to employ storytelling techniques.

      In all good stories:

      1. The brand has to achieve a goal or face negative consequences if it does not
      2. There is conflict between the brand and the competitor/problem
      3. A plot requires that a brand changes or learns something or improves

      When your brand has a goal, it is able to drive a story. Until then you have an idea. A brand’s motivations and emotions engage your customers and move the story forward.

      Source

      The Seven Points You Need To Write A Story For Your Business

      1. Begin with a bang. Start when something meaningful happens. Examples: Your brand needs to launch a product; a leader has resigned; you are facing a staffing or environmental crisis; or your brand wants to edge ahead of a competitor.
      2. Wants, Needs, Setbacks. Two key elements in storytelling are motivation and conflict. Whichever story you are telling, you need to show the conflict the problem has produced and why your brand is motivated to move forward. Use dialogue. Use emotions. Use the senses.
      3. Goals and Challenges. Your brand has to want to achieve its goals and be prepared to overcome challenges. You should show (not tell) how your brand is coping, how it is finding solutions and what it plans to do.
      4. Embrace the fear. What is your brand most at risk, or afraid, of losing? Customer Satisfaction? Customer Loyalty? Money? Status? Reputation? Use this fear in your story. Tell your readers that these things are important to your brand. Use them to create empathy with your readers.
      5. Tell a story. Tell us what happened in a short series of scenes with a clear beginning, middle, and end. Tip: When you brainstorm, start your story with ‘Once upon a time…’ Use the story outline as the basis for your finished story. 
      6. And just when it couldn’t get any worse… All great (and small) stories need a Dark Night of the Soul. Try to create a moment when things look impossibly bleak for your brand. 
      7. The end. Then show us how your brand resolves it.

      If you want to improve your business writing skills, join us for The Plain Language Programme

      © Amanda Patterson

         by Amanda Patterson. Follow her on  Pinterest,  Facebook,  Google+,  Tumblr  and Twitter.  

        If you enjoyed this article, read these posts:
        1. Six Reasons To Embrace The Power Of Stories
        2. 93 Extremely Bad Business Writing Habits to Break
        3. Nine Things To Avoid When You Write A Report
        4. Begin at the end - the one essential email trick every business writer should know
        5. The Top Seven Tips for Writing Emails
        6. Persuasive Writing Brainstormer Template

        ~~~

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        93 Extremely Bad Business Writing Habits to Break

        Simplify your writing by removing unnecessary words and phrases. We use weak, wordy sentences because we are lazy. It is easier to use the clichés than to take time to improve our writing. 

        Many great writers have commented on this problem. Here are 10 choice quotes about wordiness:

        1. The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do. ~Thomas Jefferson
        2. Let thy speech be short, comprehending much in a few words. ~Apocrypha
        3. When you wish to instruct, be brief. Every word that is unnecessary only pours over the side of a brimming mind. ~Cicero
        4. Any fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius-and a lot of courage-to move in the opposite direction. ~Albert Einstein
        5. Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. ~Leonardo da Vinci
        6. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out. ~George Orwell
        7. The trouble with so many of us is that we underestimate the power of simplicity. ~Robert Stuberg
        8. I try to leave out the parts that readers tend to skip. ~Elmore Leonard
        9. Use the smallest word that does the job. ~E.B. White
        10. So the writer who breeds more words than he needs, is making a chore for the reader who reads. ~Dr Seuss

        How can we fix this?

        If you want to be a better writer, break this bad business writing habit. Instead of vomiting meaningless words on the page, take time to think about what you are saying. Remove unnecessary words and phrases. Your reader will probably even read what you have written.

        © Amanda Patterson

        If you want to improve your business writing skills, join us for The Plain Language Programme


         by Amanda Patterson. Follow her on PinterestFacebook,  Google+,  Tumblr  and Twitter. 

        If you enjoyed this article, read these posts:

        1. Nine Things To Avoid When You Write A Report
        2. The One Essential Email Trick Every Business Writer Should Know
        3. The Top 7 Tips For Writing Emails
        4. Persuasive Writing Brainstormer Template
        5. Six Reasons To Embrace The Power Of Stories
        6. The Seven Points You Need To Build A Story For Your Business

        ~~~

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        The Time-Saving Guide To 57 Microsoft Word Shortcuts

        Writers are often glued to their keyboards. However, most of us do not know that there are a lot of useful tools in Word that could save us time. These keyboard short cuts in this infographic from Edudemic will allow you to work more efficiently. 

        All 57 are  useful, but these are used most often:

        Ctrl +B = Bold
        Ctrl + I = Italic
        Ctrl + V = Paste
        Ctrl + A = Select all
        Ctrl + C = Copy
        Ctrl + Y = Redo the last action you performed
        Ctrl + Z = Undo the last action you performed
        Ctrl + Del = Delete the word to the right of the cursor
        Ctrl + S = Save

        Source: Edudemic

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        Writers Write - Write to communicate

        Email Etiquette - 3 Questions You Do Not Want To Answer With A Yes

        Three questions you do not want to answer with a yes: 

        • Do you struggle to make sense of emails from your staff members?
        • Are you embarrassed by simple writing errors in front of clients?
        • Do you constantly apologise for the negative tone of your co-workers? 

        Does this sound like your organisation? 

        It doesn’t have to be like this. You, your secretary, your director, your administration manager, your PA, your HR specialist, your procurement officer, and your receptionist are all the public face of your company. With emails, everyone is likely to be the first point of contact for potential clients. (You may enjoy reading this post: Why everyone in business IS a writer.) Everybody who has a keyboard and access to the Internet can make, or break, your company’s image. 

        Communication is the cornerstone of an organisation. Too often what needs to be said gets lost. Reports and proposals stay on the to-do pile. Emails are not answered and problems are not solved. 

        How do you fix this? 

        If you want clear communications, you have to learn how to write. There is no shortcut. It is important to present a polished image in your correspondence. This means using correct grammar, spelling and punctuation. This means using correct email etiquette and proper email structure to avoid misunderstandings.

        ~~~

        If you want to improve your business writing, join us for The Plain Language Programme

        We have developed The Plain Language Programme to help you:

        1. Send messages in an uncomplicated fashion
        2. Write clear and concise reports in plain English  
        3. Correctly structure reports, emails, business letters, minutes, notices, and agendas 

         by Amanda Patterson. Follow her on  Pinterest,  Facebook,  Google+,  Tumblr  and  Twitter. 

        If you enjoyed this article, read these posts:
        1. 20 Types Of Content You Don't Realise You're Sharing
        2. The Top 7 Tips For Writing Emails
        3. The Three Mistakes Writers Make That Stop Us Reading Their Books

        ~~~

        Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate

        Why You Need Strong Verbs When You Write


        Strong verbs improve your writing in three ways. They help you:
        1. Reduce adverbs: Choosing strong verbs helps you to be specific. You should replace an adverb and a verb with a strong verb if you can. It will improve your writing. Don't say: "She held on tightly to the rope." Do say: "She gripped the rope." Don't say: "He looked carefully at the documents." Do say: "He examined the documents."

        2. Avoid the passive voice: Choose specific, active verbs whenever you can. Don't say: 'He was said to be lying by the teacher.' Do say: 'The teacher accused him of lying.'

        3. Eliminate wordiness: Strong verbs help you eliminate wordiness by replacing different forms of the verb 'to be'. They allow you to stop overusing words like 'is', 'was', 'are', and 'were'. Don't say: 'She was the owner of a chain of restaurants.' Do say: 'She owned a chain of restaurants.'

        If you reduce wordiness, choose specific verbs, and use the active voice, readers will be able to understand you more easily. This is what you want because the reason we write is to communicate. 

        Examples of Strong Verbs
        Source for Strong Verbs

        Find out more about our business writing course and our creative writing course by emailing news@writerswrite.co.za for more information.

         by Amanda Patterson. Follow her on  Facebook  and  Pinterest  and  Google+  and  Tumblr  and Twitter.

        © Amanda Patterson

        If you enjoyed this post, read:
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        Commonly confused abbreviations: etc., i.e., e.g.

        The abbreviations: etc., i.e., e.g.

        etc. means ‘continuing in the same way’
        i.e. means ‘that is’
        e.g. means ‘for example’ 

        Writing Tip: Always punctuate these abbreviations within commas. 

        Examples: 
        Buy carrots, oranges, apples, etc., at this shop. 
        We give all clients an early bird discount, i.e., 10%.
        The course includes writing basics, e.g., grammar, punctuation, and spelling.

        Writing Tip: In good English, use 'etc.' as little as possible. It is better to be specific.

        From our business writing course, The Plain Language Programme

         by Amanda Patterson

        If you enjoyed this article, read these posts:

        1. How to Deflate those Inflated Phrases
        2. The Ellipsis
        3. Semicolons and Colons
        4. Between you and me
        5. Hyphens & Dashes
        6. Punctuation and Dialogue
        7. What is a sentence fragment?
        8. That or Which - Which one should I use?
        9. The 12 Worst Mistakes People Make In Email Subject Lines
        10. Apostrophes Explained

        ~~~~~

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        Five reasons to use plain language - business writing tips

        No business should waste resources producing documents that are dense and difficult to read. People don’t have the time or energy to wade through gobbledygook.

        When we communicate in plain language, misunderstandings disappear and the reader actually reads the information and uses it. Staff and management don’t spend precious time explaining what they meant. 

        Plain language:

        1. Streamlines procedures and paperwork
        2. Increases understanding and satisfaction among customers and staff
        3. Reduces confusion, complaints and enquiries seeking clarification
        4. Creates a positive image
        5. Saves time and money

        Which businesses and industries should use plain language?

        All organisations can benefit from using plain language. Non-profit and the public service sector improve their reputation in the eyes of the public. Private industry gains a competitive advantage.

        Organisations reaping rewards from using plain language include:

        • government departments
        • municipalities
        • banks
        • insurance companies
        • law firms
        • legal advisory services
        • information technology companies

        Source for image and information

        Find out about The Plain Language Programme - our writing courses for business. Email news@writerswrite.co.za

        ~~~~~

        Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. If you want to learn how to write a book, write for social media, and improve your business writing, send an email to news@writerswrite.co.za for more information.

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        In Plain Language - How Writers Write Can Help You

        Writers Write provides plain language services for companies. 

        Plain Language Legislation – What does it mean?

        South Africa has legislation to balance power between those who provide products and services, and citizens who receive them. Readers must understand why a document is important, why it is necessary to sign it, and what the consequences of signing it imply. Consumers, as defined in the act, have average literacy skills. This means they are neither illiterate nor learned. Consumers must appreciate and understand the risks and obligations of entering into any verbal or written arrangement.

        How can we help you?

        By hiring a team of professional editors and writers, you ensure that your communications are clear, concise and up-to-date. The Writers Write Team will assist you with your needs according to Plain Language guidelines.

        What we do

        We provide three services: editing, writing, training. 

        1. Our editing in plain language services are for reviewing and editing your business documents, in house magazines, promotional features, presentations, style guides, and website content. 
        2. Our writing in plain language services include reviewing and rewriting content for your publications. These include brochures, newsletters, business proposals, progress reports, and promotional materials.
        3. Our training in plain language services train your staff to communicate in plain language. Our well-established Plain Language Programme is available if you want this option.

        About Writers Write

        Our motto at Writers Write is ‘Write to communicate’. We help you harness the power of words. Writers Write, established for  more than 10 years, has an experienced, professional team of writers and trainers.
        We have provided Plain Language Training for many companies including Discovery Health, First National Bank, Juta, ETDP Seta, Multichoice, and ABSA. The company teaches delegates how to write for business, how to write for the print media, and how to master the craft of public relations writing. Our business courses comply with the Consumer Protection Act.
        We also offer practical, inspiring courses in creative writing

        If you would like to find out more about any of these three plain language services please email news@writerswrite.co.za 

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        Writers Write - Write to communicate

        What image do your words communicate?

        Words are the clothes thoughts wear. ~Samuel Beckett

        Your business writing needs to be focused, concise, and accurate. People judge you by the way you communicate.  Writers Write offers comprehensive business writing courses. If you are worried about your company's image, contact us. 

        Email news@writerswrite.co.za for details.

        Source for Image

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