Writing without bullshit

Resources:

https://withoutbullshit.com/goodies#tips

Notes:

  • Merits of Business Writing: Clarity, Integrity, Value
  • Why bullshit: fear, risk
  • Treat the readers' time more valuable than your own
  • Jargon, weasel words -- "very", "deeply"
  • A weasel word is an adjective, adverb, or noun that indicates quantity or intensity but lack precision
  • "Many" "low" -- how many? How low?
  • Hate qualifier and eliminate them
  • Do hard work
  • "Net it out in three clear points"
  • Be frank, even if in good time, you can write a email with subject like "We are not succeeding yet"
  • Edit your text. Load your main point upfront!
  • General writers write for a lot of reasons: to entertain, to inform, or to persuade. Business writers write for one reason: to get things done / create a change in the reader
  • Use passive voices can hide responsibilities
  • Cherry closing makes you feel better, but does nothing for the readers
  • Use fewer words
  • Harmful: "very", "considerable", "on the other hand"
  • If all readers read is my subject line, will I still have communicated something useful?
  • Announce your main idea and use less than 250 words to justify it (for any email)
  • Big words sound impresses but makes a big noise, e.g. "state-of-the-art"
  • A mission statement written in plain language (e.g. Google's) is more effective than big words
  • Term/Jargon: reduce them, but
  • Use jargon you are sure that all your audience know
  • Define before use
  • Define in the beginning if used multiple times
  • Meaningful numbers
  • Compare with similar stuff
  • Compare with its own history
  • Explain how to test your conclusion / who backs it
  • Have good structure
  • Bullets, sections -- even in email and tweets
  • Use graphics, forms etc.
  • Stop writing nothing but words, as if you are writing on a scroll with a quill pen
  • Graphics pay their dividends by flexibility (e.g. you/others can copy&paste and put in any context with ease)
  • Be paranoid early for your writing tasks
  • Readers, Objective, Actions, and iMpression
  • After reading this piece, [readers] will realize [objective], so they will [desired actions] and think of me/us as [desired impression]
  • Distractions make us dumb
  • Brains that are low on blood sugar don't concentrate well
  • But don't just create hyperawareness for a short time using sugar/caffeine rush.
  • Roles of the potential collaborators
    • Primary authors: no more than 2 - both being responsible for the final writing
    • Editors
    • Project Manager
    • Researcher
    • Contributors
    • Advisory reviewers
    • Gatekeepers
    • Fact-checkers
    • Copy editors
  • Start writing by agreeing on your readers, objectives, desired actions, and hoped-for impression.
  • Each task has a leader responsible for it
    • Lead researcher
    • Lead visionary
    • Lead data analyst
    • ...
  • Figure out whose names go first -- more well-known person or the one who originates the idea
  • What's your deadline? A great edit handed in too late is worse than worthless. It's demoralizing
  • Shit sandwich
  • Structure offers Skimmability
  • It's Not Clear Why the Piece Even Exists
    • Why am I reading this?
      • Who is the audience?
      • What's the objective?
      • What action do they expect the readers to take?
    • Do a ROAM analysis
  • Set aside a sacred writing time. Learn what flow feels like
  • For email: after reading the email, the recipients will understand what I need, send it to me, and perceive me as efficient.
  • When you send some condition to your boss, also include a recommendation. But don't tell your boss what to do
  • Content Markting & Social media:
    • Blog post: Your readers should subscribe to your blog, share it, and check out your products
    • Social media piece: share and click. Spread. Reach.
    • Avoid large group text with no focus.
    • Avoid text speak and emojis.
  • Answers: Yes, No, A number, I don't know (and will get back to you in X days).