Gracewriting Tip: Respect Your Readers

Gracewriting: Words with Power and Grace

Why is business writing so awful? Have we run out of fresh things to say? Are we too focused on trying to sound professional or smart? Is it the product of an education system that rewards length over clarity?

Business writing would be a lot better if we focused on the reader instead of ourselves. Gracewriting teaches you to write with power by being clear, concise and correct. We help you write with grace by putting your reader’s needs first.

How often have you read proposals/letters/emails that are slammed full of wimpy to-be verbs, endless prepositional phrases, and superfluous, excessive, repeated redundancies? You care about your readers, right? So, let’s start putting their needs first by writing concisely and respecting their time. Here’s how:

1. Use Strong Verbs: The power of the English language comes from verbs. Tap into that power by replacing wimpy to-be verbs with mighty action verbs. Why “be in agreement with” when you can simply “agree”? Why “make a decision” when you can just “decide”? Strong verbs lead to strong writing!

2. Pass on the Prepositional Idioms: What in the world are prepositional idioms? They are clumps of prepositional phrases that can be replaced with one word. Instead of “in order to,” simply use the word “to.” Replace “due to the fact that” with “because.” Exchange “at this point in time” with “now.” Why use several words if one will do?

3. Pull the Word Weeds: Eliminate words that take up space without adding any meaning. Yank up empty sentence openings like “There is” and “It is.” Search out redundancies like “past history” or “absolute certainty,” and prune those -ly adverbs; “The skillfully executed presentation completely convinced the firm to hire us” is really too much. Remember, every word you write counts!

Respect your audience and their time. Go with less chatter and more substance. The result? Your readers will appreciate you, and you’ll land on the shortlist more often!

— Jen

Tales from the Field

Tales from the Field

We were going after a very important healthcare project. We have great expertise in healthcare, but the competition was stiff. Our team did a great job at the shortlist interview. The client viewed us as capable, experienced and progressive, but unfortunately, they thought the same thing about two other teams. So, their CEO asked that only the “owner partner” from each team come in for a follow-up interview.

I knew our teamwork had gotten us there, but now it was up to me to bring it home, or not! I needed to pull out all of the Graceworks’ stops, get out of my comfort zone and show this CEO that I was “a man with integrity” and vision for this project. Well, I dug deep and opened up to him personally. I not only shared a verbal vision of their project, but I closed my eyes and described what I was seeing with great feeling, which helped him visualize how amazing their facility might be. This approach was uncomfortable for me, but I knew I had to differentiate us from the others.

Well, WE WON the project! We’re currently working on it, and the resulting healthcare environment will exceed their expectations.

Graceworks seriously expands your comfort zone, but it’s kind of like U.S. Marines training; they put you through extreme conditions so you can withstand stressful situations with success. I can recommend Graceworks to anyone who wants to win!

Dave Johnson, AIA, LEED AP
Partner-in-Charge, Healthcare Studio
King + King Architects LLP
Syracuse, NY

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