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Top Three Student Tips on How to Sound More Professional Through Writing

By Stephanie DalPorto, PR Coordinator, Spring 2021

In the Think Fast, Talk Smart podcast, lecturer and podcast host Matt Abrahams sits down with Glenn Kramon, a lecturer in management at Stanford GSB and editor at the New York Times to discuss the importance of all types of writing we may encounter. From term papers to emails, here are my favorite tips that Kramon suggested:

“Know about your audience.”

Who are you speaking directly to? Is it an individual? A group? An entire company? Consider these questions before you begin writing. This is your chance to dive into who you want to reach across to and connect with. Additionally, suppose they don’t know you. In that case, this is a fantastic opportunity to show them you know them well and win them over.

Simply put, make them want you by showing them who you are. Once you’ve established this deeply rooted understanding and empathy for your audience’s needs and desires, “then you can make them laugh and cry and act on what you want them to do.” Be sure to make connections to the audience - the “I’ve been where you are” rhetoric - and deliver it in an engaging and conversational manner. It’s vital to recall Kramon’s words emphasizing that the way you deliver something is just as important as the words you use to deliver it.

“Write simply and succinctly.”

If you could tell me how you text someone when you are in a rush, I would guarantee it would be completely different from a literature report. It’s critical to be yourself in your writing. In other words, don’t use words that make you sound like someone else. Someone will see right through it. Remind yourself to avoid babbling on with repetitive words full of jargon. One strategy that has helped tremendously since high school has been to read your reading aloud. I promise you that reading your words out loud will help bring clarity to your writing - reminding you, even, of how you usually speak.

When it comes to writing emails, one tip to make yourself write more simply and succinctly is to remove the “I hope you’re doing well” opening. I, myself, have been guilty of doing this for years on end. If it wasn’t for Glenn Kramon’s guest appearance on the podcast, I would have still been doing this!

“Write stories, not essays.”

Working in a business environment doesn’t always have to mean the words you choose must be mundane. So much of the world we live in today equates professionalism to neutrality. Sometimes the best way to stand out is to be bold with words. In fact, with everything you write - emails, research papers, essays - it’s your chance to tell your audience a story. One way Kramon suggests an individual to think about their writing is to pretend like you are writing a script for a Hollywood movie. If this perspective doesn’t add fuel to your flame, consider adding some humor or emotion. The last option is to think of a person and pretend you tell them this story in person.

Which skills do you already use? Which do you wish to improve on?

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