Writing Tips: Effectiveness

Call out the obfuscators

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Our language is being abused by politicians, business leaders, bureaucrats and others, and we should challenge them. In the current profusion of information, particularly on social media, we are liable to be confused and deceived, at least for a time. This conspiracy of obfuscation is dangerous. However, it is unlikely to win in the end […]

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How to make your readers believe you

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Be yourself. It is easier said than done, especially in a corporate environment. It’s essential for writers to feel able to be themselves. And most people – often under pressure to conform to some corporate ethos, real or imagined – find this extraordinarily difficult. Some have challenged convention: politicians such as Donald Trump, Nigel Farage […]

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rupert morris writer

Ulysses with an iPad

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I am a third of the way through Ulysses, James Joyce’s famously unreadable and controversial work of literary genius, and I have made a crucial discovery. An iPad or similar device is an almost indispensable aid to enjoying a work as rich and allusion-packed as this. I never like to read the introduction to a […]

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fiona

Customer calling – is anybody listening?

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I tried a new way of getting help from my energy supplier this week, but ran into familiar hassles. I wanted to move from a standard tariff to a fixed tariff. Not so difficult, surely? I thought I’d try having a webchat. I found it a touch irritating that every other sentence was answered with […]

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How to persuade

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We can all learn something from the activities of the government’s so-called Nudge Unit, which applies elementary psychology to make it easier for people to act in their own and the public interest – insulate lofts, keep cars off the streets, pay taxes etc. Its official name is the Behavioural Insights Team, and the headline […]

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Euro lifeboats and other metaphors

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The European Commission has just inaugurated the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), which is basically a large pot of money meant for keeping struggling Eurozone members afloat in tricky times. The President of the Commission, José Manuel Barroso, was speaking at a maritime conference, so he decided to use a fitting metaphor to describe the ESM. […]

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In speeches, be yourself

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Be yourself. This simple injunction is good advice for most kinds of writing, but when it comes to speechwriting, it overrides all other considerations. I’ve spent the past two weeks running workshops on writing and giving speeches, and although we explored use of slides, preparation, structure and many other important issues, this is what lingered […]

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Could Dickens help your business writing?

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At the end of our Clarity training courses we give out a list of recommended reading. The idea is that people’s writing is influenced by what they read and that a dose of good fiction may counteract the corporate drivel that they are inundated with at work. I’m thinking of adding Dickens’ novels to our […]

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Don’t write – talk

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I was about to start coaching Steve (not his real name). He looked nervous, waiting to hear what I thought of the writing sample he’d sent me. I’d only known him for ten minutes but I liked him: he was funny and straightforward. Unfortunately, his writing was terrible. It was a speech for his boss, […]

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Mediocre but instructive

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The three party conferences of 2011 are over, and even political anoraks are relieved. It is a poor commentary on all Britain’s professional politicians that the most memorable speaker from all three parties was a 16-year-old schoolboy. None of the party leaders distinguished themselves in their conference speeches – although there were instructive features in […]

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