Nearly all forms of modern media require some form of writing. Regardless of whether you are presenting in an audio, visual, or live format, some aspect of text will be needed either before or during the process. Using text is a fundamental form of communication. It's amazingly versatile and incredibly complex, so understandably, people struggle with it. Text media includes articles and blogs, emails, websites, newsletters, white papers, slide decks, social media, and more. Some of these require very different tones, and the length varies dramatically. Text is the foundational form of communication.
Great leaders can both unleash and harness the power of the written word, and understand how to use it well in context. If you want to maintain a long career in a C-suite, here's a brief cheat sheet for taking your good writing to great:
Good: It's appropriate.
You haven't offended anyone, the piece is professionally written, and the tone and content are generally accessible by the audience. You haven't used 5-syllable words in material for first graders, and you've used something beyond a simplistic declarative sentence in your academic paper.
Great: It's specifically tailored for your audience.
Just because your audience can understand the text doesn't make the writing effective. Craft the material so that it's directly targeted at the specific, desired audience. You might need multiple versions of the same content to hit the mark. Get to know the way your audience receives and understands information and then tailor it to fit their generational, cultural vernacular.
Good: It's clear.
Make sure your message isn't muddled. Help the audience get main takeaways. Don't include extraneous material if it doesn't contribute in some way. Read your message as if you had no context for it, or as if you were a brand new hire on your first day. Would you understand it, and be able to take action based on the content? If not, consider going back for an edit.
Great: It contains a precise message that contributes to a greater goal.
It's important that your main message is clear, but it's also important that it's not a one-off reminder. It's not enough just to say that it's important - you need to explain why it's important. Draw the connection between this specific case and the broader mission you're trying to achieve, or a thematic goal for which the company is striving. And remember, giving a message one time probably isn't going to make it stick in the minds of most people. You'll probably have to deliver the same message multiple times.
Good: It's interesting.
Business communication tends to be very, very dull. It's not well written, it's not designed with the audience in mind, there's no humor, and it's minimally helpful. The good news is that this means the bar is very low for interesting content! So if you can case your message in a good read, you've already exceeded expectations. But don't be satisfied with just "not boring" - strive for something greater.
Great: People can't wait for more.
Few things put people to sleep - often literally - faster than boring writing. If you want your message to stick, make it compelling for your audience. When you write, make an emotional connection with the audience. Tell a story to illustrate your point. Use humor, trauma, or beauty to make it memorable. Make it - dare I say - fun! Making your employees smile is a far better method of driving home a point. Make the content irresistible to your audience - they'll actually look forward to the next installment!