I’ve neglected this blog of late as life has taken over. However, my good intentions will hopefully continue into the new year with thoughts on writing and communications.
So, kicking off with ruminations on the current state of the world. With so much change around us right now, how do we all keep understanding each other? Imagery is King right now as we’re bombarded with images day and night, a large percentage of which are horrifying, unpleasant, saddening. I’m a firm believer in each of us doing our bit to make the world a better place (blame my hippie socialist family) but even I have days of struggle, when the constant stream of bad news imagery starts to wear me down.
Right now, I’m reading a biography of Douglas Adams by Neil Gaiman and the world’s daily and constant barrage of imagery with often no writing behind it (or often offensive language behind it) reminds me so much of Adams’ Babel fish in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. We can’t understand each other without the Babel fish but, as soon as we have it in place, we end up in wars as we’re offended by what we have to say to each other. Miscommunication, arrogance, fear, loathing – all playing into the world around us today.
You start to despair, you think, how can little old me make a difference? Communication is all about making connections so let’s all start there.
- Got a fantastic inspirational image for your Instagram account? Make sure you include some positive writing to go along with it, whether it’s a quote, key hashtags or a link to a positive organisation that’s trying to make a difference in the world. Here’s one, here’s another, here’s a third.
- Putting together a presentation for work and starting to wonder what’s the point of it all? Be bold, scrap 50% of your presentation, pick out the key words and phrases you want to get across, use images only and TALK to your audience.
- Get away from work emails and go TALK to the person you want to communicate with. Yes, I know, a writer advocating less writing! Egads! Well, here’s the reverse of that as well…
- Start writing for yourself. Self-reflection is a glorious habit but it often can only work when you’re writing that reflection. Doesn’t matter the equipment you use for writing, be it a notepad and pen, mobile phone, laptop, tablet, scraps of paper, post-it notes. Just start writing down your thoughts. You can start to sift through that constant bombardment of news and imagery by reflecting on it for yourself, bring the macro back down to the micro of your own reflections on what’s going on in the world. Then you can start to think about how you can help change that macro view without being overwhelmed.
- If you’re writing a report for work, again, be bold. Take your writing down to the essence of what you’re trying to get across to the staff members, the shareholders, the customers. Are you using Plain English? Read through your report and imagine talking it through, face to face, with someone – does it all make sense, is it easy to understand?
- Read, read, read – we all become better writers through reading. It was interesting to see what Bill Gates has been reading this year. What are you reading beyond newspapers, news websites and social media? Right now, these are the books I’m in the midst of (being incapable of ever reading one book at a time). Some are an escape from the world, some are very much grounded in the here and now, all of them nurture me:
- Dangling in the Tournefortia – Charles Bukowski
- Don’t Panic, Douglas Adams & The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Neil Gaiman
- Always coming home – Ursula Le Guin
- Unfinished Business – Anne-Marie Slaughter
- Gut, the inside story of our body’s most under-rated organ – Giulia Enders
- I’m not with the band – Sylvia Patterson
- The Introvert Entrepreneur – Beth Buelow
- and on Kindle, Gravitas – Caroline Goyder
As for me, I’m about to be bold with helping university students improve their business communication skills with a workshop all about the top three communication skills that companies consistently feel are missing from placement students and graduates. I’m scrapping the lecture I’ve done previously on this and getting the students to reflect and learn by TALKING to me and each other, what a novel idea!
Has this post given you any ideas for how to start making a difference or are you about to scrap your report and scream outta the window? Comment below or connect with me on Twitter.
Norwich Street Art photo by @Markheybo, creative commons licensed.