Enlightened Leadership Blog | Writing Tips for Entrepreneurs | April 2023
The greatest leader I know is a storyteller. People have gathered around him for years as he shares tales from his professional and personal life. His animated voice and the belly laugh that causes his eyes to nearly close at the climax of every funny story he tells are magnets drawing people in, never letting them go. My favorites are those stories so amusing, even to him, that tears leak from his crinkled blue eyes. In business, people flocked to him, hoping there was a spot for them on his team. In his personal life, he enjoys many friendships. I’d love to bottle up his words and pour them out on paper. As a ghostwriter, someday, maybe I will.
For entrepreneurs, there are several universal skills required for success. One is writing, or what I like to call “mastering the written story.” Whether we offer services or products or something else, if we cannot communicate well with the written word, we’ll miss an integral part of building our relationships, growing our business, and helping others. We’ll miss drawing people in.
There are several things we can do to enhance our writing skills. Here are five writing tips (a.k.a., how to use the written word as a magnet) for small business owners:
- Capture the essence of a story. Everyone loves a good story, and every story needs a hero. Who’s your hero and what have they done to support the message you’re sending out? (Hint: it’s always fun to make your audience the real hero!).
- Be as interesting as you want your readers to be interested. No one wants to read boring content. And the way to make something boring is to write while you’re bored. If the information doesn’t interest you, it won’t interest your audience. Add humor or a secret detail, include your personality, and write when you’re excited about something.
- Be brief. Avoid cliches. Delete all adverbs (those words that end in -ly). Get to the point and don’t over-explain. In one writing activity, I had the group I was teaching delete every fourth word from their essay. No relevant content went missing. Their writing was tighter and more engaging once they realized how much they could part with.
- Vary your sentence length. One of the key ways to engage readers with your writing is by varying your sentence length. Some should be short. Others can be long and contain several clauses and messages, but be sure to know basic grammar rules and use correct punctuation!
- Use your five senses. With writing, readers should feel your message, idea, or story. You want it to change them in some way. To do that in a physical world, use physical attributes in your storytelling. What does the hero, and consequently the reader, see, smell, feel, hear, or taste? Include these details in your written word for a more powerful experience.
The leader at the start of this post—the storyteller—is my dad. I like to think I inherited his storytelling skill, but no one is as talented as him. Like him, I cry when I laugh too hard. He’s my hero.
Now, will you humor me? Go back through this post to see each of these five tips in action. I started with a story about a hero, then used a metaphor—a magnet—to create an interesting picture in your mind. The message was brief, and I used adverbs sparingly (except for right there). I mixed in short sentences. To conclude, we circled back with a nod toward the front-end hero, providing you with a “secret” detail.
Finally, fellow entrepreneur, let me introduce you to the second hero of this story. You. Why? It’s time for you to master the written word through brief but compelling storytelling. When you’re ready, shoot us your short business communication (your email, newsletter, or blog post). We’d love to read it!
Write on, storytellers.
By Cortney Donelson
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