Wednesday, 2 February 2011
Book Review: Brilliant Business Writing - How to inspire, engage and persuade through words
I thought I would change it up a little bit since I promised to review small business resources as well so this month we’ll take a look at Brilliant Business Writing by Neil Taylor. I would like to start off by saying it is brilliant because he gives a lot of advice that I give in my workshops myself and use on a daily basis with my writing projects!
All kidding aside, I enjoyed Taylor’s tongue in cheek, humorous approach to a sometimes very dry subject. Most of us who call writing our passion and vocation can devour (and enjoy) books on writing that others would find extremely dull. I would say that Brilliant Business Writing is a resource for any level of writer. A novice writer will probably pick it up and read it cover to cover in one sitting. The more veteran writer may keep it on the desk and refer to it periodically over a month or so and read a few pages at a time while waiting for large documents to download or for the computer to boot up (as I did). I found myself nodding and grinning as Taylor gave examples of language use blunders he’s come across in his career.
In the first pages of the book he suggests that the reader “think of it like circuit training: you’ll be gradually building up your linguistic muscle.” I love this metaphor! He goes on to say that good business writing should be clear and concise but you should inject stories, rhythm and metaphor to keep it from being boring. He gives great analogies like suggesting that you approach your writing like an actor in a play. An actor can show up, say their lines accurately and on cue and walk through the right doors but if they’re not lively and engaging they won’t be winning any Tony Awards. “Writing is a presentation you’re not in the room to deliver,” says Taylor.
He has a whole chapter on “Myth Busting” and my favorite chapter is called “Don’t Hedge.” Basically, the message is all about not dancing around bad news. He recommends a straight forward approach and saying it like it is.
Every chapter is spotted with “Brilliant Tips” or little tidbits of information to get you thinking like “Check what you write by reading it aloud.” I agree that this is a great proofreading strategy and works beautifully to catch awkward sentences and other errors.
Improving your writing requires lots of practice and often reminding yourself of good, basic writing habits and strategies to grab and keep an audience. At the end of the book Taylor says, “Keep this on your desk and on a slow day you’ll be able to dip in for a linguistic top-up.” Not a bad idea, really.