Week 9 of the #langcatlockdown, and some of the new certainties we’ve grown used to are chucked up in the air again, straddling as we do the Scottish / English border (and that bit of water between civilisation and the Isle of Wight). Can we bring our English colleagues up to the border, stand on the other side of it and shout so long as we have taken no more than two forms of socially distanced public transport on the way? How many nannies do I need to hire to take care of my colleagues, let alone their children? Just how many apps do we need to track Mike Barrett’s bike rides?
One thing’s for sure – the fact that up here we can to take two forms of exercise is a game changer. Scots everywhere are marvelling that we’re allowed to go to the chippie and the offy on the same day.
WRITE PROPER LIKE WHAT WE DO
Your update this week is inspired by this thread from Mike Taggart, who has been and is a journalist and editor, and now runs a comms agency called FOCO. It’s absolutely worth a read in terms of what Mike’s learned in 478 years of being a communications professional.
As I was reading Mike’s stuff, I was thinking about all the shifts adviser firms have gone through in your communications mix. We know about the Zoom meetings and the explosion in use of client portals (Nick Eatock of Intelliflo was good on this here). What we maybe haven’t spent so much time on is the written word, despite the fact that most firms will be spending more time on written communications than ever before. I can’t prove that, but it feels true, and that’s all you need in this post-fact world.
No-one likes to admit to finding writing communications hard, but it is, which is why people like Mike (and the lang cat) get paid for doing it. But you absolutely can do it yourself, and I thought I’d share my top three tips for getting what you want to say out of your head and onto the screen. Here we go…
- Be the audience – some poor schmuck is going to have to read what you write. Try and remember them. Almost every business writer is so consumed with what they want to tell or sell, they forget that their desire to communicate has to be matched with the audience’s desire to be communicated to. It’s like policing by consent except you can’t settle scores with your neighbours by cliping on them.
- If in doubt, start – Sit at screen. Stare at screen. Google some stuff. Go make a cuppa. Remember you haven’t emailed your uncle. Make another cuppa. And so on. Instead of all that, try this. You know what you’re writing about. So if it’s say, a client newsletter of 500 words or so, start with the main point, not the ‘nose’ of the piece at the top. Put the headings down of what you want to say, and start infilling between them. Then do the end bit, with any call to action, then finally do the start. This almost always works, and gives you time to think up Isle of Wight jokes.
- Edit your piece – ideally get a professional editor like Mike Taggart, but if you can’t do that then check your grammar (you could try Grammarly) and your spelling (it’s Isle of Wight, not White, though the latter is funnier). Aim to cut as much flab as you can. For example, ‘the car which is driving down the road swerved to avoid hitting Mike Barrett’ easily shortens to ‘the car swerved to avoid Mike Barrett’. It’s obviously driving, almost certainly down a road, and almost certainly didn’t swerve to hit Mike although we wouldn’t blame it etc etc.
One final tip for this – try deleting your first two paragraphs and see if your piece still makes sense. 99% of the time it will; all you were doing with your first two was warming up. The other 1% of the time? You’re writing the Top Class Wednesday Update.
LINKS > GRAMMAR
- Platform pricing is always in our thoughts, and we still think 2020 will be a year when we see new models really come through. Adviser-pays will pop up in a real, practical, doing-it kind of way. And modular pricing, where you only pay for what you use, will be interesting too. Here’s Chris Fisher of Multrees, past guest on #HomeGames, on that.
- Big ups to Will Robins of Citywire on a) having a lovely garden and b) taking a big first step to rid his site of anonymous keyboard warriors.
- Yon Chris Davies of Model Office has published a cool guide to tech you might think of using through lockdown and out the other side. It’s free and it’s here. He’s also running a webinar which you can check out here. It features the lang cat’s very own Terry ‘Rock Hard Terry’ Huddart, but don’t worry, he can’t reach you through the screen.
- Our eighth #HomeGames webinar this week at 12.30pm features a bit on AI from Ben Lester of Praemium and some fun research about where firms see themselves in 10 years. Come join in here. Over 500 registered so far, eeek.
- And if you’d like to find out about our Platform Analyser tool we’re running an open webinar / demo tomorrow at 11am. Terry and I will be hosting that.
- And your music choice? With all this talk of writing, what you need is six minutes of sheer instrumental bliss. Pleased to tell you that I’ve found just the thing- please enjoy Coolverine by the evergreen Mogwai at maximum volume.
See you next week