DIY writing: good business sense or hidden trap?

20 March 2020

Even at the beginning of the 21st century when there is a small business for every need, from organising the contents of your refrigerator to walking your pet gerbil, DIY (do it yourself) is a popular concept. There are many reasons why we choose to do a job ourselves. We may need to save money or we may enjoy the sense of satisfaction at saying ‘I did it myself’. Or perhaps we genuinely believe we have the skills to do the job well enough.

Businesses continually make DIY decisions. Do we hire a marketing manager or do we do our own marketing? Do we identify our own process improvements or pay a consultant to tell us where we’re going wrong? Do we write our own articles or blogs, or pay a professional writer to do it? Do we proofread our annual report internally or get an external professional proofreader?

Everyone can write – or can they?

In Australia, we begin learning how to read and write at age 4 or 5 and are expected to go to school until we are at least 16. Although there are children who slip through the cracks, in Australia we generally take literacy for granted. Even if we leave school at 16, most people can write to a greater or lesser extent. But is the writing we learn at school teaching us the skills we need for the workplace?

When we leave school, we are still in the DIY phase of writing. We generally know how to put words on a page, but that doesn’t necessarily mean our words will communicate effectively. There are also several generations of native English speakers in Australia who have never learned the basics of English grammar, such as how to construct a sentence or use punctuation correctly. There are others who have achieved top marks in Year 12 English but are unable to write a clear and concise email or a well-structured business report.

Knowing you have a problem

The first step to deciding whether you can successfully complete a DIY business writing task is to understand your strengths and weaknesses. At Concise Writing Consultancy, we have helped thousands of staff and managers since 1994 improve their writing skills and get better results from written communications.

Some of the common issues people come to us about are:

  • I’m not sure how to structure a sentence
  • I tend to be too wordy and I want to be more concise
  • My reports ramble – I don’t know how to create a logical structure
  • I don’t have a clue about English grammar, even though English is my first language.

Of greater concern, are those team members who are not aware they have a writing weakness. For example, they might think they write clearly and that their work is grammatically correct, when in fact their communications are difficult to understand or full of errors. A writing weakness, such as the tendency to write long sentences, may be pointed out by a manager. More often, team members are left wondering why they fail to get responses to their emails or why they keep missing out on that promotion.

The training solution

If you would like your team to become better DIY writers, now is a good time to talk to us about our flexible on- and off-site customised training packages. If you’re not convinced there is a need in your organisation for writing training, talk to your team to gauge their interest. You might be surprised at the response.

Whether your DIY project is building furniture, making money on the stock market, or writing a clear and concise report, you’ll achieve a much better result under the guidance of a teacher or mentor with the appropriate expertise. Concise Writing Consultancy training and writing professionals have university qualifications in writing as well as a minimum of 10 years’ experience working in the government and corporate sectors. Increasing any skill, including writing, is always worth the effort.

For an obligation-free assessment of your team's writing ability, contact Concise Writing Consultancy today on 02 9238 6638.

Or download our free ebook with questionnaires and benchmarks: Australia’s Written Communication Crisis: 5 Warning Signs Managers Can't Afford to Ignore

 

 

 

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