Many of us want to write better. We often want to find the perfect words to communicate our message. After all, it’s through the written that we often advocate most effectively for our causes and organizations. Whether through an email outreach to get donors, a Facebook post to attract customers, or a blog post summing up our mission, we write all day. Yet, writing often feels like a challenge. Many business and nonprofit professionals are confident in front of a crowd, but feel blocked in front of a keyboard.
Anyone can learn to be a better business writer, to tell their organization’s story more effectively. We talked to New York Times best-selling author and Impact Hub coworking member Michael Levin recently. The CEO of BusinessGhost.com, a ghostwriting firm that has written, edited, and published more than 550 books, Michael shared his strategies on writing better by writing from the heart.
What are some of the things organizations should do if they want to communicate more effectively?
Be personal. There’s little humanity in email, texting, or technology. People hunger to be treated as people. They aren’t “prospects” — or “visitors” or “eyeballs.” They are human beings who have a problem and are wondering if you can solve them for them. They also want to know if a real, live, empathetic human being will contact them quickly.
I think we get a lot of deals simply because there’s a person on the end of the line, and that we respond quickly to inquiries.
A lot of people feel they aren’t “natural writers.” Is there such a thing?
Maybe. Some people just have a gift for some things. The question is whether they develop that gift — the same thing as someone who’s great, early on, at piano or sculpting.
It really comes down to confidence and desire — are you willing to put the time in to maximize on whatever gifts you have?
What are some of the cornerstones of effectively communicating your organization’s core message?
Obviously our website, www.BusinessGhost.com, and our social media advertising. But the main way I communicate with my audience is via a twice-weekly newsletter. It’s seldom about “Hire us to write your book!” Instead, it’s about whatever’s on my mind — this week, a friend who just went to prison; or a book about the insidiousness of online marketing; or singing the National Anthem at a minor league game.
The message: we take ideas and words seriously. We think about things. Wouldn’t you like this same level of thought and writing to be deployed on your behalf?
And then internally, I do audios from time to time for team where I communicate with my team that we try to be like the Ritz-Carlton, “ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen.”
How can we, as business or nonprofit leaders, become more effective communicators?
If you’re making a speech, do it without notes or a PowerPoint. Rehearse each separate 30-second bit of the speech until it’s perfect and then move to the next 30-second bit. Think about the humanity of the people you’re addressing.
If it’s one-on-one communication, remember that people want to be listened to. Don’t jump in as soon as the other person starts speaking, which is what most of us usually do. Instead, wait and see if the person has something else to say. What they say when you give them those extra “beats” often becomes the most important thing.
What about when communicating with external stakeholders? Within our own organizations? Are there differences in how we should communicate?
[It’s the] same. People are people. Don’t treat them in terms of their job descriptions, wealth, or importance. Treat everyone equally. It sounds so trite, but it’s contrary to the way most situations work.
What, to you, is effective writing for an audience who has never heard of one’s organization?
First demonstrate that you understand their pain more clearly than anyone else. Then demonstrate that you’ve solved the problem for others…and ONLY THEN talk about yourself.
Any parting tips for us, as we strive to become better tellers of our organizations’ stories?
If you don’t love the story your organization is telling, quit your job and tell a better story!
New York Times best selling author and Shark Tank entrepreneur Michael Levin runs BusinessGhost.com, America’s leading provider of custom ghostwritten books and joined ImpactHub in 2014.