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Why the pen is mightier than the sword

t’s obvious, really. How many times have you been educated, challenged and inspired by what you have read? When, however, has the threat, or actuality, of violence ever truly changed your mind or transformed your world? Through the writings of those with a vision passionately and clearly communicated, empires have crumbled, global institutions been established, lives turned upside down and much more by the writings . The acts of terror we’ve recently witnessed in London, Manchester and elsewhere have utterly failed in their intended purpose, but already wordsmiths and doers of love have resoundingly declared that hate will not win.

Yet those pens can always benefit from being turbocharged with new skills; writers can learn how to craft their texts for maximum effectiveness. That’s what this blog and the related Udemy course, “A Formal Writing Masterclass”, is all about. Words truly do matter and we can all improve in our communication. One part of the course that I’m particularly pleased with a separate “bonus” section on persuasive writing – how to send out messages that will convince others. There’s so much to explore in this subject and I hope you will check out the course.

Pen is mightier than the sword

 

Delving deeper

Hopefully, you’ve enjoyed reading these posts so far and learned different ways to improve your Communication.  I’m now excited to share that I’ve created a Udemy online course, “A Formal Writing Masterclass“, to explore these themes in greater depth and breadth.  There’s so much to discover about the art of writing excellent reports or essays, which engage and educate your audience.

I’ve just added a new resource, “Top Ten Tips for Formal Writing”, which I believe distils the lessons I’ve learned over the years into a concise, helpful summary.  Overall, there are hours of PowerPoints, quizzes and resources to unpack all the intricacies and details that you will need if you wish to excel at writing for the workplace.  Udemy is a brilliant platform because you can access the course anytime and anywhere, picking-up where you left off and learning at your own pace.

Of course, there is a small cost involved – we all need to eat and provide for our families – but this is most definitely a worthwhile investment.  When you think of how much is spent on a night out or a fake tan, education really does represent exceptional value for money.  You’ll be able to preview for free a selection of introductory modules to better gauge what is on offer and work out if this is the course for you.  Please do take a look…

Clear Communication – a poem

The keys to excellent communication

Include accuracy, clarity and concision.

Whether reading or writing,

Speaking or listening,

Remember you are conversing:

Trying to put your point across,

Separating wheat from dross,

Sending info from one to another

Without inordinate effort or bother.

So, cut-out junk jargon and abbreviations,

Go on no tangents or deviations,

Keep your text clear and interesting,

Stop confusions from festering,

Stick to the rules, like writing three for 3,

Aim to follow the logic of symmetry.

 

When discussing in groups, always listen –

You don’t want to be the one who’s missing.

Don’t be afraid to speak-up, contribute,

You’ll find each brings a unique attribute,

Together you’re stronger, better intertwined;

Generate more ideas; solutions you’ll faster find.

Be polite and supportive, praise what’s well done.

You’ll find you have so much more fun

Than sat in stony silence or launching bitter invective,

Neither of which will help reach your objective.

 

When reading remember to summarise,

Including key points, but don’t offer surmise.

Identify the author’s actual point of view,

Are they biased or balanced, what shows you?

Back-up with quotes to include as evidence,

Then a marker clearly sees your defence.

What about purpose – to persuade or entertain,

Maybe inform, or is there a mix to explain?

Who’s the target reader and what’s the format,

Is it top-class journalism or celebrity tit-tat?

Finally, evaluate to make sense of each part,

How do the graphics add to the article’s art?

How does the layout work to help you read

Each point of the paper, so you succeed?

Is the language complex, are any images conveyed?

If yes, quote and unpack what the pictures portrayed.

Overall, what do you think of the ideas expressed?

Do they illuminate the topic or is truth suppressed?

Add your own points, in favour or against,

Always support opinion with reasoned defence.

Check carefully to correct any daft mistakes

For your benefit and your markers’ sakes!

An introduction – what’s the point?

How we communicate has a huge impact on our lives.  Here’s just three quick examples of why literacy is important:
  • Giving a speech at a wedding – overcoming the nerves and giving your best performance
  • Writing a complaint to the Council – keeping your cool and achieving a result
  • Reading a credit card’s small print – cutting through the jargon and avoiding a blunder
Fundamentally, people’s initial judgments are based on our words – what we say or write makes a big impression that might never be changed.
Core Skills is a significant part of the Scottish government’s drive to improve the nation and respond to the needs of modern-day businesses/organisations.  The evidence speaks for itself.  For example, 500 businesses were questioned in 2011 and almost half were found to have paid for remedial English and Maths lessons for school and college leavers.  Similarly, according to the Literacy Commission in 2009 report, roughly one million Scots were unable to read and write properly.
So, there’s clearly a real need in many areas to improve Communication.  I’m aiming to plug this gap with a Udemy course, “Formal Writing Masterclass“.  There’s a special code (FormalWritingPromo29) to bag a bargain on your learning.  Why not take a look and try this out for yourself…?

Report Exemplar

Regenerating New Elgin Report

I hope you like this example of a formal report, which aims to exemplify crystal clear communication. Explaining simple steps that could significantly improve my home city of Elgin, I believe this also provides an important insight into what local authorities should focus on improving.

The Communication Crux

If we fail to communicate,

Then sadly we degenerate

Into moans and groans

About wrinkled skin, sore bones.

Never learn from error,

Increased suspicion and terror.

Jaw-jaw breaks down dividing walls,

Helps us make better judgment calls.

Listening leads to knowledge growing

Essential for better relationship-building,

So Communication’s completely key,

Especially to enhance everyone’s efficiency.

Communication’s Keys

The keys to excellent communication

Include accuracy, clarity and concision.

Whether reading or writing,

Speaking or listening,

Remember you are conversing.

Trying to put your point across,

Working out how to avoid the loss

Of info from one brain to another

Without inordinate effort or bother.

So, cut-out junk jargon and abbreviations,

Go on no tangents or deviations,

Keep your text clear and interesting,

Stop confusions from festering,

Stick to the rules, like writing three for 3,

Aim to follow the logic of symmetry.

 

When discussing in groups, always listen,

You don’t want to be the one who’s missing.

Don’t be afraid to speak-up, contribute,

You’ll find each brings a unique attribute,

Together you’re stronger, better intertwined,

You’ll generate more ideas; solutions faster find.

Be polite and supportive, praise what’s well done.

You’ll find that you have so much more fun

Than sat in stony silence or launching bitter invective,

Neither of which will help reach your objective.

 

When reading remember to summarise,

Including key points, but not offering surmise.

Identify the author’s actual point of view,

Are they biased or balanced, what shows you?

Back-up with quotes to include as evidence,

Then a marker clearly sees your defence. 

What about purpose – to persuade or entertain,

Maybe inform, or is there a mix to explain?

Who’s the target reader and what’s the format,

Is it top-class journalism or celebrity tit-tat?

Finally, evaluation to make sense of each part,

How do the graphics add to the article’s art?

What part plays the layout to help you read

Each point of the paper, so you can succeed?

Is the language complex, are any images conveyed?

If yes, quote and unpack what the pictures portrayed.

Overall, what do you think of the ideas expressed?

Do they illuminate the topic or is truth suppressed?

Add your own points, in favour or against,

Either focus on defence or launch a counter-offence.

Check carefully to correct any daft mistakes

For your benefit and your markers’ sakes!