Can you believe it’s December?  The year is almost over.  Yikes.

One of the many things that I love about this time of year is thinking about resolutions and goals for the new year.  It’s a blank slate!

Do you have goals for 2024?  Any communication goals?  Yes, of course, I have communication goals. Currently, I’m working on a podcast episode focused on my 2024 communication goals.

In the meantime, here are three suggested communication goals for you, and some related books that I recommend.

3 communication goals and 3 books to Talk About this week: 

  1. Upgrade your Writing – The Sense of Style
  2. Communicating with Precision – Smart Brevity
  3. Leveraging Best Practices – The Checklist Manifesto


1️⃣
Upgrade your Writing – The Sense of Style

Do you ever catch yourself writing in passive tense?
(I have been noticing a lot of this.)

Do you try to avoid ending your sentences with a preposition?
(You know what I’m talking about!)

Me too.

Whether you’re writing a simple email, updating your resumé, or writing copy for your weekly newsletter or podcast(!), we should all make an effort to upgrade our writing. One way to upgrade your writing is to read and implement the suggestions in Steven Pinker‘s book, The Sense of Style.”

WARNING: This book is not an easy read! This is not a “grab a glass of wine and curl up with your latest” kind of book.  Rather, it’s more like a “sit-down and get ready to think deeply” kind of book.

Speaking for myself, reading a Steven Pinker book feels like an accomplishment.  But it’s well worth the effort.

In this book, psychologist and linguist Steven Pinker takes a contemporary and realistic perspective on writing in the 21st century. He does not advocate we follow a dated “style guide.”

Instead of writing “correctly,” Pinker encourages us to write for clarity and impact. For example, we might purposefully, though sparingly, end our sentences with a preposition. (What are you waiting for?).  Pinker also quotes writer Calvin Trillin, “As far as I’m concerned, whom is a word that was invented to make everyone sound like a butler.”  I love it!


2️⃣ Communicating With Precision –
Smart Brevity 

Based on my experience coaching executives, I’ve noticed some trends by seniority or years of experience. Early in our careers, many of us seek to overcome imposter syndrome and communicate with confidence.  Then we move on to clarity.  And then for senior executives, it’s impact and precision or brevity. Generally, it’s the senior executives who seek coaching on precision.

Communicating with precision may be a more important skill than many of us realize. Consider your response when you open an email or a resume – or even a podcast that’s way too longUgh!

I tell my clients that while we may be coming from a place of generosity when we go on and on, the truly generous communicators are the ones who do the work instead of imposing that work on the reader.  They cut the unnecessary ideas and words. They focus.

When I look back at some of my early Talk About Talk email newsletters, this is exactly what I see.  Too many ideas and too many words.  I was trying to be generous, but it backfired.

Enter Smart Brevity: The power of saying more with less.”  This is one of the books I recommend most for my clients.

In contrast to Pinker’s “The Sense of Style,” this is an easy read!  Axios founders Jim VandeHei, Mike Allen, and Roy Schwartz wrote this book to share their firm’s mission and to encourage all of us to do the same: “Say more with less.”

Ironically the most generous communicators use fewer words. Get to the point immediately in your email. Cut your resume down to two pages. Reduce the page count of that report.  People can always ask questions if they need more.

Be generous and communicate with precision.


3️⃣
Leveraging Best Practices – The Checklist Manifesto

If you’ve been reading my newsletters, following me on social media, and/or listening to my podcasts, you know that I love a good framework; highlighting best practices, and formulating a list.

A few examples: my simple self-introduction framework, my three-point body language scan, and my four P’s of preparing to communicate with confidence.

Sometimes, when there are more than 3-4 things, we need a checklist. Enter “The Checklist Manifesto: How to get things right” by surgeon and writer Atul Gawande.

I love this book!  If you’re “a list person,” you’ll love it too.  And if you’re not, you might become one, based on Gawande’s compelling stories. Imagine the checklists involved in complicated surgical procedures!

What I appreciate most about a good checklist is that it allows you to think about other important things, including executing with excellence.

Whether you’re introducing yourself to an important client, performing surgery, or updating your resumé, following the best practices in a checklist can help you up your game.

Here’s a great example for you. Executive recruiter Sharon Mah-Gin and I co-created this “Resume Tip Sheet” as a checklist with best practices to help you upgrade your resume or CV right now. Download it for free here.

 

There you go – 3 things to Talk About this week:

  1. Upgrade your Writing – The Sense of Style
  2. Communicating with Precision – Smart Brevity
  3. Leveraging Best Practices – The Checklist Manifesto

If you’ve read any books that you recommend, please let me know!  Shoot me an email anytime.  I love to hear from you.

Have a great week.
Talk soon,