Tuesday, November 09, 2010

How to Communicate in Writing*

I don't have a degree in English or Communications or Writing or anything like that, but I have learned a few things over the years about how to write things down in order to get your idea across.
  • Know the difference between the forest and the trees. It is very important to start with an Overview that includes the big ideas, without the clutter of details at that point.
  • Sometimes it might be necessary to state assumptions like who the intended audience is (that is, what previous knowledge the audience has that makes them able to learn this new thing).
  • Think hard about the order in which concepts have to be presented--sometimes order is not so important, but usually it is.
  • Present new information at the right rate. Not too fast, and not too slow.
  • Think about the new questions your information is going to provoke, and answer them at the appropriate spot in your discourse. Often a parenthetical comment works well to do this.
  • Put like things together. Group the details such the reader knows what larger concept they are trying to illuminate.
  • Try to put yourself into the place of the reader when you review your work.
  • Assume that only the rare geniuses among us can write something well the first time. The rest of us MUST review, edit, re-read, read out loud and edit again.
*Yeah, since this is my blog, I can give advice even if no one wants it and no one asked for it. :-)

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