words at work by lynda mcdaniel
is like a road trip
Know where you’re going
When you write anything of
proposals, articles, internal
to take your readers
your goal is to
staff to comply with new
policies. Perhaps you’re
the board of
a project requires
additional funding. Whatever your goal, you need a clear
vision of where you’re headed.
But make sure you know where you’re going
Imagine you’re on a road trip. Traffic is moving briskly, your travel mug is topped up with hot coffee, and the sun is bright
overhead. There’s only one problem.
The driver. He’s droning on about
how important your destination is.
Sure, he’s an expert on it, but does
he have to speak in that stuffy manner,
his chest puffed out and chin tucked
under? Half the time you don’t know
what he’s talking about, but you
nod and think about where you’d
like to stop for lunch, if he ever
takes his foot off the accelerator.
Finally he pauses, only to have the
passenger in the backseat jump in.
She’s spewing five-syllable words, in
love with the sound of her own voice.
Honestly, you want to get to the
destination, but you feel like jumping
out at the next red light.
Business writing and road trips have a
lot in common. Every day, employees
from the entry level to the C-level clock
countless hours on this same road. They
write boring, sometimes bombastic,
reports and proposals, memos and
minutes that don’t really communicate
at all. They just dump information
that doesn’t get them anywhere.
Let’s turn that around. You can drive
your writing in a different direction—
and arrive at your destination with your
readers in tow. Here’s how.
Follow the map
The journey is a lot easier when you
know how you’re going to get there.
Create an outline that lays out the
clearest, straightest path to your
Take a break
What’s a road trip without breaks? We
often race to complete our writing
tasks (like that heavy-footed driver we
just met) so we can scratch them off
our to-do lists. Sure, it feels great to
get there fast, but does quality follow?