Three Simple Ways to Become a Powerful Writer

Persuasive writing is an incredible important and influential skill in business. Isn't it time to supercharge the way you write?

By Neil Stoneham, Director, Voxtree


In the digital age, we produce and consume a vast amount of words. Whether you are writing sales documents or pithy statements on social media, words are the oxygen of our business.


Words inspire clients to buy from us. They can lift the spirit and motivate a team. Words can even compel your audience to take action.


You’d think, then, that the ability to produce the kind of writing that commands attention would be highly valued. Yet, judging by the poorly written e-mails and jargon-filled websites that plague the world of commerce, it seems like anything but.


Companies that prize the written word reap the benefits—just take a look at Apple. They began to dominate the market not just by creating products that people wanted, but also by communicating their message in a powerful, user-friendly way.


Gone were the baffling technical jargons. Instead, phrases such as “Think Different” and “Simplicity in the ultimate sophistication” won hearts and minds, and made people feel comfortable using new gadgets such as the iPhone or iPad.


The science of writing


Most of the copy you see in major advertising campaigns are written by professional copywriters. These are the people who spend a lot of time thinking about which words to use in the right order so as to persuade customers.


Some of this is intuitive, but the psychology of persuasion is uppermost in any good copywriter’s mind. Compelling copy doesn’t simply happen by accident. It is drafted, redrafted and then redrafted some more, until the copy is finely tuned and ready to beguile its audience.


While the means to communicate have evolved, the way our brains respond to information remains much the same.


Back in the 1960s, Father of Advertising David Ogilvy wrote this:


“At 60 miles an hour, the loudest noise in this new Rolls-Royce comes from the electric clock.”


It is a clever copy, and it sells the quality of the engine by focusing on a fairly trivial feature. The best part is that it shows but doesn’t tell.


Yes, you can


The good news is that anyone with the ability to construct a sentence can develop effective writing skills. Often, it is simply a case of changing your approach.


Here are three simple steps you can take to become a more powerful writer:


1. Define your purpose

A lot of writing is badly constructed because it hasn’t been properly thought through. Being clear about your objective(s) before you write and doing the necessary research will make your writing stronger. It also increases the likelihood of you achieving the results that you want.


2. Keep it simple

Professional people often believe they must write in a business voice in order to impress. The result is a mess of clichés and platitudes—lots of phrases such as “customerfocused solutions” and “innovative opportunities to leverage.” Instead, you should aim for clarity, which results in less confusion and more sales. From the humble e-mail to the latest annual report, cutting out the jargon, the repetition and the tired empty business rhetoric will make you stand out.


3. Make it colourful

Adding colour to your writing draws attention and keeps your audience engaged. For example, instead
of writing, “A few techniques to minimise the shortcomings in writing designed to persuade,” I could write, “Six simple secrets that will make your writing utterly irresistible — guaranteed.” People love to read about benefits, and if anything is “guaranteed,” they immediately have more confidence in it.


Of course, there’s much more to becoming an effective writer than these points. But any time invested in brushing up your writing skills is certainly well worth the effort.