Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman offer a different explanation of what the differences are between average and great supervisors and managers. In First Break All The Rules (FBA) the authors write: The greatest managers in the world do not have much in common…They employ vastly different styles and focus on different goals. But despite their differences, these great managers do share one thing: Before they do anything else, they first break all the rules of conventional wisdom. They do not believe that a person can achieve anything he sets his mind to. They do not try to help a person overcome his weaknesses. They consistently disregard the Golden Rule. And, yes, they even play favorites. The authors say that talented employees need great managers to reach their potential. Rather than trying to coach improved performance based on weakness, these great managers work on their employees’ strengths. And, that, according to the authors, is what separates the good from the great managers.
Great leaders are Professional Life long learners
As we enter into the 21st century, the information age, your ability to expand your mind and strive for continuous education is critical to your success. By dedicating yourself to lifelong learning, you can leapfrog ahead of your competition.
The highest paid people in America today work an average of 59 hours per week. They read an average of 2-3 hours per day. They belong to industry associations and organizations that encourage the individual to dedicate themselves to lifelong learning with current information and ideas on their fields. Continuous education for them means that they attend annual conventions and go to every session available that has new insights that can help them to be more effective in getting the results for which they are responsible.
The Importance Of Lifelong Learning
Lifelong learning is the minimum requirement for success in your field. Since information and knowledge in every field is doubling every 2-3 years, this means that your knowledge has to double every 2-3 years as well, just for you to stay even.
Expand Your Mind
This brings us to a very important point on intelligence, information, and lifelong learning. There are three different kinds of education that you can acquire, either deliberately or in a random, haphazard fashion. These three kinds of learning are maintenance learning, growth learning and shock learning.
This is the kind of learning that adds knowledge and skills to your repertoire that you did not have before. For example, if you decide to learn to speak Spanish so that you can expand your business opportunities into the Hispanic market, every word, phrase and sentence that you learn is a form of growth learning. Growth learning helps you expand your mind and you are acquiring information that you did not have before that enables you to do things that you could not do before. Some of the very best thinkers in the world today are producing some of the very best material and ideas that you can use for continuous education and to help you expand your mind. You can acquire this information and strive for lifelong learning by just reaching out your hand and picking it up in the form of books, articles, tapes and courses.
The Second type of learning is called shock learning. This is where something happens that contradicts or reverses a piece of knowledge or understanding that you already have. Shock learning can be extremely valuable if you act upon it. Peter Drucker, in his book Innovation and Entrepreneurship, says that the primary sources of innovation in a company are the unexpected success or the unexpected failure. Something happens that is completely inconsistent with the expectations, with what should have happened.
This “shock” can give you insights that can enable you to either take advantage of a major change in the marketplace or guard against a serious reversal. Unfortunately, most people are creatures of habit. When something happens that is completely unexpected, they choose to ignore it in favor of the old information with which they are more comfortable.
Dedicate Yourself to Continuous Education
Knowledge is the primary source of value in our world today and your ability to expand your mind and devote yourself to lifelong learning is the key to breaking any success barriers that may be in front of you.
I hope you are making room for continuous education in your life. Please feel free to share your tips on lifelong learning and how you expand your mind on a daily basis!
The World Keeps Changing
Despite what you’ve heard, old dogs can learn new tricks. Our world is fluid and things never stay the same. It’s important to continue learning so you can keep up. If you don’t, the world will pass you by.
To Develop Your Abilities
We’re all born with natural talents and abilities, but that doesn’t mean we’re masters of those talents the first time we try. Lifelong learners are always honing their skills and learning new ones.
To Open Your Mind
The more you learn, the more sides you’ll see of the same issue. Reading, watching intelligent television and holding conversations with others will educate you about other points of view. It may or may not change your mind, but it’ll help you to understand that there is more than one side to every issue.
Five Tools in Every Great Leader’s Tool Box
In The Leadership Challenge James Kouzes and Barry Posner feature five Practices of Exemplary Leadership.
1. Modeling the way
Your title is taken for granted, but the primary way you get the respect of others is through your behavior.
2. Inspiring a shared vision
Effective leaders are able to form pictures of what the future holds and communicate that vision to others.
Charles Pfeffer in his article “Leadership, Vision and shared-mental modeling” at the website Winters Group: Focal Points writes:
“We have long understood the ability to describe an attractive future to be a core competency of leadership. A vision is a description of the future that is attractive because it expresses the possibility of realizing values that are important to people. A leader who can articulate such a vision creates the following of people who share a commitment to these values.
It is useful to look at what leaders do when they articulate a vision. Fundamentally what they do is speak. This may seem obvious, but it also helps take the mystery out of leading. It is not just any old speaking that leaders do when they create vision. They speak new possibilities. They declare what they see to be possible. Think about the Declaration of Independence. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” At the time, these words were not statements of fact, or even a general popular opinion. These words were an articulation of a possibility that did not yet exist, yet was extremely attractive. The more audacious the possibility, the greater the gap between the vision and the way it is today.
The challenge that leaders face is to speak visions in ways that engage people. At first, visions may sound impossible to people in the organization. You can look at this as a leader talking “pie in the sky” or as people being unable or unwilling to hear new possibilities. When Gandhi said, “the British will leave India,” it was an outrageous thing to say. Nonetheless, in 1947, the British did leave.
Leaders recognize that it is their job to speak in a way that allows people to engage with the future they are describing. To engage people, leaders must take into account the assumptions that people hold about what is possible. We all have views about what can and cannot be done. A good leader will engage us to examine our assumptions and question them. Another term for our set of assumptions about how things work is “mental model”.
Leaders who are concerned with activating people’s energy and engagement will be mindful not to force their vision on people. Instead they will engage people in dialogue, putting forward their own view of what is possible and listening respectfully to the views of others. When people share their mental models, they build mutual understanding that creates a greater sense of trust and a basis for alignment. Vision emerges as a collective commitment to a set of possibilities in the future, reflecting the shared values and mutual understanding of everyone” (2000)
3. Challenging the process
Kouzes and Posner say, “Leaders are pioneers—people who are willing to step out into the unknown.” Before taking the first step, effective leaders gather as much information as they can about the situation. Questioning and listening are their most powerful tools.
4. Enabling others to act
When others trust your leadership and you allow them to make decisions and mistakes you are creating the type of environment where others feel free to act. Good team leaders must be willing to share or delegate authority to team members.
5. Encouraging the heart
When you recognize and reward genuinely you are telling others that you appreciate their good work.
“The climb to the top is arduous and long. People become exhausted, frustrated, and disenchanted. They’re often tempted to give up. Leaders encourage the heart of their constituents to carry on. Genuine acts of caring uplift the spirits and draw people forward. Encouragement can come from dramatic gestures or simple actions. When Cary Turner was head of Pier 1 Imports’ Stores division, he once showed up in a wedding gown to promote the bridal registry. On another occasion, he promised store employees he’d parasail over Puget Sound and the Seattle waterfront if they met their sales targets. They kept their commitment; he kept his. As mayor of New York City, Rudy Giuliani wore different hats (literally) to acknowledge various groups of rescue workers as he toured ground zero after the World Trade Center towers were destroyed on September 11, 2001. But it doesn’t take events or media coverage to let people know you appreciate their contributions. Terri Sarhatt, customer services manager at Applied Biosystems, looked after her employees so well that at least one reported that the time she spent with them was more valuable than the tangible rewards she was able to give out.
It’s part of the leader’s job to show appreciation for people’s contributions and to create a culture of celebration. In the cases we collected, we saw thousands of examples of individual recognition and group celebration. We’ve heard and seen everything from handwritten thank-yous to marching bands and “This Is Your Life” ceremonies.
Recognition and celebration aren’t about fun and games, though there is a lot of fun and there are a lot of games when people encourage the hearts of their constituents. Neither are they about pretentious ceremonies designed to create some phony sense of camaraderie. When people see a charlatan making noisy affectations, they turn away in disgust. Encouragement is curiously serious business. It’s how leaders visibly and behaviorally link rewards with performance. When striving to raise quality, recover from disaster, start up a new service, or make dramatic change of any kind, leaders make sure people see the benefit of behavior that’s aligned with cherished values. And leaders also know that celebrations and rituals, when done with authenticity and from the heart, build a strong sense of collective identity and community spirit that can carry a group through extraordinary tough times”
( Kouzes and Posner, Pp. 19-20
This story was based partially on an article found in Reader’s Digest (February, 1988). The original work was copyrighted by Patricia McGerr in 1965.
My trip to the Kiniwata Island in the Pacific was a memorable one. Although the island was beautiful and I had an enjoyable time, the thing I remember most about my trip was the fact “Johnny Lingo gave eight cows for his wife.” I’m reminded of it every time I see a woman belittle her husband or a wife wither under her husband’s scorn. I want to say to them, “You should know why Johnny Lingo gave eight cows for his wife.”
Johnny Lingo is known throughout the islands for his skills, intelligence, and savvy. If you hire him as a guide, he will show you the best fishing spots and the best places to get pearls. Johnny is also one of the sharpest traders in the islands. He can get you the best possible deals. The people of Kiniwata all speak highly of Johnny Lingo. Yet,
when they speak of him, they always smile just a little mockingly.
A couple days after my arrival to Kiniwata, I went to the manager of the guesthouse to see who he thought would be a good fishing guide. “Johnny Lingo,” said the manager. “He’s the best around. When you go shopping, let him do the bargaining. Johnny knows how to make a deal.”
“Johnny Lingo!” hooted a nearby boy. The boy rocked with laughter as he said, “Yea, Johnny can make a deal alright!”
“What’s going on?” I demanded.
“Everybody tells me to get in touch with Johnny Lingo and then they start laughing. Please, let me in on the joke.”
“Oh, the people like to laugh,” the manager said, shrugging. “Johnny’s the brightest and strongest young man in the islands. He’s also the richest for his age.”
“But …” I protested. “… if he’s all you say he is, why does everyone laugh at him behind his back?”
“Well, there is one thing. Five months ago, at fall festival, Johnny came to Kiniwata and found himself a wife. He gave her father eight cows!”
I knew enough about island customs to be impressed. A dowry of two or three cows would net a fair wife and four or five cows would net a very nice wife.
“Wow!” I said. “Eight cows! She must have beauty that takes your breath away.”
“She’s not ugly, …” he conceded with a little smile, “… but calling her ‘plain’ would definitely be a compliment. Sam Karoo, her father, was afraid he wouldn’t be able to marry her off. Instead of being stuck with her, he got eight cows for her. Isn’t that extraordinary? This price has never been paid before.”
“Yet, you called Johnny’s wife ‘plain?’ ”
“I said it would be a compliment to call her plain. She was skinny and she walked with her shoulders hunched and her head ducked. She was scared of her own shadow.”
“Well,” I said, “I guess there’s just no accounting for love.”
“True enough.” agreed the man. “That’s why the villagers grin when they talk about Johnny. They get special satisfaction from the fact the sharpest trader in the islands was bested by dull old Sam Karoo.”
“No one knows and everyone wonders. All of the cousins urged Sam to ask for three cows and hold out for two until he was sure Johnny would pay only one. To their surprise Johnny came to Sam Karoo and said, ‘Father of Sarita, I offer eight cows for your daughter.’ ”
“Eight cows.” I murmured. “I’d like to meet this Johnny Lingo.”
I wanted fish and pearls, so the next afternoon I went to the island of Nurabandi. As I asked directions to Johnny’s house, I noticed Johnny’s neighbors were also amused at the mention of his name. When I met the slim, serious young man I could see immediately why everyone respected his skills. However, this only reinforced my confusion over him.
As we sat in his house, he asked me, “You come here from Kiniwata?”
“They speak of me on that island?”
“Yes. They say you can provide me anything I need. They say you’re intelligent, resourceful, and the sharpest trader in the islands.”
He smiled gently. “My wife is from Kiniwata.”
“Yes, I know.”
“They speak of her?”
“What do they say?”
“Why, just … .” The question caught me off balance. “They told me you were married at festival time.”
“Nothing more?” The curve of his eyebrows told me he knew there had to be more.
“They also say the marriage settlement was eight cows.” I paused. “They wonder why.”
“They ask that?” His eyes lighted with pleasure. “Everyone in Kiniwata knows about the eight cows?”
“And in Nurabandi, everyone knows it too?” His chest expanded with satisfaction. “Always and forever, when they speak of marriage settlements, it will be remembered that Johnny Lingo paid eight cows for Sarita.”
So that’s the answer, I thought: Vanity.
Just then Sarita entered the room to place flowers on the table. She stood still for a moment to smile at her husband and then left. She was the most beautiful woman I have ever seen. The lift of her shoulders, the tilt of her chin, and the sparkle in her eyes all spelled self-confidence and pride. Not an arrogant and haughty pride, but a confident inner beauty that radiated in her every movement.
I turned back to Johnny and found him looking at me.
“You admire her?” he murmured.
“She … she’s gorgeous.” I said. “Obviously, this is not the one everyone is talking about. She can’t be the Sarita you married on Kiniwata.”
“There’s only one Sarita. Perhaps, she doesn’t look the way you expected.”
“She doesn’t. I heard she was homely. They all make fun of you because you let yourself be cheated by Sam Karoo.”
“You think eight cows was too many?” A smile slid over his lips.
“No, but how can she be so different from the way they described her?”
Johnny said, “Think about how it must make a girl feel to know her husband paid a very low dowry for her? It must be insulting to her to know he places such little value on her. Think about how she must feel when the other women boast about the high prices their husbands paid for them. It must be embarrassing for her. I would not let this happen to my Sarita.”
“So, you paid eight cows just to make your wife happy?”
“Well, of course I wanted Sarita to be happy, but there’s more to it than that. You say she is different from what you expected. This is true. Many things can change a woman. There are things that happen on the inside and things that happen on the outside. However, the thing that matters most is how she views herself. In Kiniwata, Sarita believed she was worth nothing. As a result, that’s the value she projected. Now, she knows she is worth more than any other woman in the islands. It shows, doesn’t it?”
“Then you wanted …”
“I wanted to marry Sarita. She is the only woman I love.”
“But …” I was close to understanding.
“But,” he finished softly, “I wanted an eight-cow wife.”
This story was written by Patricia McGerr.
And always remember, in the words of Dale Carnegie, “A talk is a voyage with a purpose, and it must be charted. The man who starts out going nowhere, generally gets there.”
According to the White House Office of Consumer Affairs, an unhappy customer remembers the incident for 23 1/2 years and talks about it for 18 months. Your ability to win over angry and rude callers can help your business more than you can imagine.
On average an angry customer will talk to 11 friends about the incident within one week and each of those friends will tell 5 other people about the incident within 2 weeks. That is a total of 67 people that know about the incident that made you mad within 3 weeks. I’ll bet you have heard somebody on the phone with an angry or frustrated customer and when they hung up they said “so what if they don’t want to do business with us, they are just one customer!” One customer indeed.
In face-to-face conversations, 80 % of a message is non-verbal (55% body language and appearance with 25% attitude and tone of voice). On the telephone you don’t deal with the body language but the attitude and tone of voice is increased to 45%. Listening skills are critical.
When you have an angry customer on the telephone, give them your “5 star” attitude. Number one and two on the list is sit up straight in your chair and breathe. Good posture helps you to pay attention better and controlled breathing keeps your blood pressure down. When people react angrily the first thing they do is hold their breath, which causes their blood pressure to “shoot up” which prohibits clear thinking.
The third “star” is to eliminate distractions, if you were working on something, put it away or if there are people in your office or cubical, ask them to leave. You need to be able to concentrate 100% on the problem at hand. If you have an unscreened angry caller and need time to think for a few seconds you can say “I am going to put you on hold for about 10 seconds to clear my distractions so I can focus on your situation”. This will help you gather information and make them feel important.
Number four is to be extremely patient, do not loose your cool. Don’t take the customers anger personally, they are not mad at you, they are mad at whoever is on the other end of the phone.
The last of the 5 stars is to be efficient, take good notes of the conversation. The average attention span of a person listening on the phone is 7-9 seconds before their mind briefly wanders. Note taking helps you to see the words as well as hear them. You can use the notes to ask questions for clarification of to just show the customer that you care. Think about this, what would you feel like if you were logging a complaint and the person you were complaining to say, “Do you mind if I take a few notes?” How would you feel? You would probably feel they cared about what you were saying. Plus by taking notes you can ask them to speak more slowly. Slowing speech can decrease a person’s anger momentum.
Remember in handling an angry caller always practice exceptional courtesy and kindness. Empathize with them, “walk a mile in their shoes”, see things from their point of view. In Dale Carnegie’s book “How to Win Friends and Influence People”. He uses the phrase Feel, Felt, Found. When empathizing it sounds like this, “Mrs. Jones, I know how you feel, I have felt the same way but let me tell you what I found………….” Many times angry callers don’t want you to solve their problem. They just want you to treat them like an individual and listen.
Always use their name, “Mr. Jones, Mrs. Smith” or you can use their first name if you are on a first name basis. It would be best for them to know and use your name; this can help to curtail their anger because now you become a person.
Finally, if you have to transfer the call for any reason make sure you brief whomever you transfer the call to on the situation. This is where the notes come in handy. There is nothing more frustrating for a customer than explaining a situation to someone who can’t help, then getting transferred to another department and having to start the explanation all over again.
The key to handling angry callers is to visualize in your mind that you can do it. 99.75% of angry callers are normal people that can be reasoned with. The other .25% that can’t be reasoned with is called “Illogical Customers” and their goal in life is to be difficult. Nothing you say is going to be satisfactory. Don’t let this small percentage effect the way you handle the rest. Remember, “If you think you can, you can and if you think you can’t, you are right.”
Self-Confident individuals stand out. They’re the leaders, the shining lights, the attention getters in their public or private spheres. Theirs is a star quality born of self-regard, self-respect, self certainty-all those self words that denote a faith in oneself and a commitment to one’s self styled purpose. Combined with ambition that marks this style, that magical self-regard can transform idle dreams into real accomplishment.
The Self-Confident personality style is one of the two most goal-directed. Self-Confident men and women know what they want, and they get it. Many of them have the charisma to attract plenty of others to their goals. They are extroverted and intensely political. They know how to work the crowd, how to motivate it, and how to lead it. Hitch on to their bandwagons, and you will be rewarded.
The Self-Confident style adds go-getting power to other personality styles. For example, it counteracts the conscientious person’s tendency to get sidetracked by details, and it fuels the adventurous person’s great feats of daring. It propels any personality pattern into the realm of success. Indeed, the Self-Confident style confers an ability to be successful more than any but the aggressive personality style.
The following nine traits and behaviors are clues to the presence of the Self-Confident style:
Self-Confident individuals are genuine, often gifted leaders. If this is your dominant style, follow ambitions that lead toward leadership and the lime-light.
Three men who believed they could judge character by facial appearance were gathered in a plastic surgeons office: a playwright, a lawyer and a doctor. They were looking at masks of patients before surgery. The playwright said, “This person with a receding chin is a weakling.” “Wrong,” the plastic surgeon answered, “He’s an aggressive stockbroker.” The lawyer said, “This man with the ugly gash on his cheek must be a gangster. It’s a typical squealer’s cut.” “No”, the surgeon said. “He’s a sedate businessman that was in a car wreck.” The last man examined the mask with the broken nose and said, “This fellow looks as if he’s been in a number of fights. Is he a pugilist or racketeer?” “No,” the plastic surgeon answered, “He’s a school teacher who fell on his nose when he was a child.” He then showed the three men the casts of these patients after surgery. They were astounded. They couldn’t believe these normal faces had once been horribly distorted. To this day, many people persist in believing that the face is an index to character. Character is below the surface; it’s in the heart. CHARACTER, MY FRIENDS, IS WHAT YOU ARE IN THE DARK. True character has roots that go back to childhood.
It’s the tough times in a person’s life that spawn greatness…or character.
Hard times and harsh times developed strong men and women, women who think straight and stand tall, men who refuse to bend and bow…willing to swim up-stream rather than float down with the tide and current of the waters.
Hard times are not over and harsh times have not passed away. We find ourselves in the midst of these this very moment. You might be working to overcome a rough childhood by your accomplishments in the professional world, or maybe you are fighting a nagging illness. Maybe you are struggling with finances, you have marriage problems, an alcoholic relative or your parents are becoming dependent; the list can go on and on. We all have our own battles.
Some of you may say, “Well, times ARE hard, times ARE tough, in fact, I’m suffering a lot.” Well, have your pity party and GET OVER IT. Welcome to the club. That’s what it is all about.
The German poet Johan Gutta wrote – “A talent is formed in stillness; character is formed in the world’s torrent. It’s character that we are all about; strength of character.”
Herbert Spencer, an English philosopher wrote “Not education, but character is man’s greatest need and man’s greatest safeguard.”
My favorite author Chuck Swindoll says that “Character is the moral, ethical and spiritual undergerding that rests on truth, that reinforces a life in stressful times and resists all temptation to compromise.”
My message to you is don’t take it easy. Who knows why you were brought onto this earth …for this very era for your friends and relatives. Pour into them what you have learned in the hardships and heartaches of your own life. Show them some of your character. Don’t take it easy.
A physician once told me a story of something he learned the hard way. He was treating a lady who was in her 80’s and she was in great condition! He asked, “What in the world do you do to stay in such great condition?” She replied, “Run.” The doctor then asked, “You run? Well, how far do you run?” “4-5 miles,” she replied. “Every month?” the doctor inquired. “No, every day” she said. The doctor said “OOHH! Take it easy…” and in 3 months she was dead. Now for whatever reason you may give to the cause of death, the doctor said he would never again tell somebody to take it easy.
I don’t know about you folks, but I am going to take those words out of my vocabulary.
Some of us are so involved with making a living we have forgotten about working to make a life. So busy worrying about a financial portfolio we forget about character. That’s what it is all about. That is what will impact the people in our daily lives. It’s who we REALLY are, in our hearts.
Our young people are looking for those who are determined, still teachable, and flexible, yet firm in convictions; those who can handle the obstacles, whatever may be thrown at them. I once read that “Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off of the goals.”
Some of you have become obstacle conscious. All you hear is the bad news. Your focus is on what isn’t working. You know what won’t work. You are known for your complaining and whining and you are hard to live with. Stop it!
Carlisle, the Scottish essayist said “The block of granite that stands as an obstacle to the weak becomes a stepping stone to the strong.” What can I offer that will encourage you to take tomorrow by the throat, to step into the challenges that we face? What can I say that will help you with change? Mark Twain once said, “Nobody likes change except a wet baby.” I think Mark Twain is right. You may not like change, but change is required to make a difference today from yesterday. Some of us are overdue.
Alexander Solzhenietzen wrote, long before he was as popular a man as today, “It was only when I lay there on rotting prison straw that I sensed within myself the first stirrings of good. Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not thru states, nor between classes nor between political parties either, but thru every human heart and thru all human hearts…. so bless you prison for having been in my life………..bless you hand slap for having been in my childhood, bless you financial troubles, bless you all hard times for giving me what I needed the most but didn’t know, CHARACTER.”
Keeping your temper in check can be challenging. Use simple anger management tips – from taking a timeout to using “I” statements – to stay in control.
Do you find yourself fuming when someone cuts you off in traffic? Does your blood pressure go through the roof when your child refuses to cooperate? Anger is a normal and even healthy emotion – but it’s important to deal with it in a positive way. Uncontrolled anger can take a toll on both your health and your relationships.
Ready to get your anger under control? Start by considering these 10 anger management tips.
**Thanks to the staff of the Mayo Clinic for help with this information
I speak to over 100 groups per year both public and private. There are four types of people that come to seminars; Tourists, it’s better to be there than at work; The graduate, they already know everything (they think!) they come to see for sure; The “captive”, there against their will, it usually takes about one quarter of the day for them to warm up; and finally, the student. This person loves learning. They will get the most out of the seminar.
The key is will any one the attendees do anything with what they have learned?
People attend seminars to get better at work or in their personal lives. I’m sure you have heard this saying, “knowledge is power”. That is actually only partly right. Knowledge is power if you do something with it. Most people that learn new information through books, tapes, seminars or hanging around knowledgeable people don’t ever change because they don’t have enough mental strength or self discipline to change the undesirable “habits” they have acquired in their life.
Even though our world is all about “Change” I believe there are things in life that NEVER CHANGE.
These “6 things” are the topics of a new three hour “key note” program that I have titled “Some Things Never Change”.
Steve Milano has been writing for newspapers, magazines, businesses, associations and Web sites for more than 25 years, including “Entrepreneur,” “Sports Illustrated for Kids Parents’ Playbook,” “Fit” and “Business Development Outlook.” He has taught business writing as an adjunct professor and private lecturer. Steve is also a consultant with Dave Oakes Seminars.
In business writing, it’s not just what you say, but how you say it. You may provide the exact information you want your customers and potential clients to have, but if you present it in the wrong order or from the wrong perspective, they may not receive the message you intended.
In addition to your writing technique, the format on which your writing will be displayed can affect your message. Verbiage that works well for a letter may not be effective for a Web page, and might be deleted without being read if the reader gets it via e-mail.
Below are a few tips to help your writing pop, and get your message read:
#1 – Consider Your Format
Keep written letters to one page, if possible. Break information into short paragraphs of no more than three to four sentences, with each paragraph containing only one idea. Keep Web copy brief. Successful Internet content producers require their writers to keep articles less than 500 words. Don’t provide details in e-mails. Send one- or two-sentence e-mails that tease people enough to want them to go to your Web page for information. Use e-mails to get people to click on links, not to act.
#2 – Consider Your Lead
The first sentence of your letter, report or memo is critical in determining whether or not your readers will finish reading your message. Don’t talk about your company, product or service. Speak to the reader by identifying a problem or need they have so they’ll want to continue reading to find the solution to their problems.
#3 – Talk About Benefits
Car makers don’t emphasize fuel injection, drive train warranty or other mechanical features in their advertising. They sell reliability, affordability, status, sex appeal or other benefits. They save the specifics for additional support. Sell the benefits of your product or service first.
#4 – Use The Active Voice
“If you use our product, lower costs can be obtained,” is not as strong as, “You will lower your costs using our products.” Use active verbs to make a point.
#5 – Omit Needless Words
Check each word of your copy before you submit it to see which words don’t add any value. Change, “ABC Co. is the state of Georgia’s largest distributor,” to “ABC Co. is Georgia’s largest distributor.” Change, “We have no plans to discontinue our policy at the current time,” to “We have no plans to discontinue our policy.”
#6 – Read Your Work Aloud
One of the most effective ways to proof your work is to read it out loud. When you write something, it’s easy to skip over errors visually. When you read your work, you WILL stumble over and catch awkward phrases.