What is smart? If you were to call someone “smart” what exactly does that mean?
Does it mean memorizing a lot of information and regurgitating on a moment’s notice?
Does it mean being quick witted and mentally nimble, being able to respond to anything or anyone at any time no matter what the topic is?
When I think of some of the smartest people I know, across the board, I see them taking a lot of complex information, and making it digestible. They know what they are talking about – and so does everyone around them.
And years in science and healthcare PR has trained me to do just that – take complex information and boil it down to the headlines and the key takeaways. Here are some quick tips on how to look smarter through your writing.
1. Do your research
Plain and simple. I don’t want to say “back in my day, we didn’t have Google,” but back in my day, we didn’t have Google. I was in college before anyone had email (true story). And to even get online, you had to sit through that horrible dial up and connection noise. Luckily life – and research – is a lot quicker, easier and quieter. So first things first, Google it. Get the background on what you’re writing if you don’t already have it, and use Google to see what others are saying about your topic in case you need to defend your point of view.
If you have experts available — use them. If you need to ask a subject matter expert about how accurately you summarized complex information – do it.
2. KISS your writing
Keep It Simple, Sir (or madam). Summarize your point of view or findings in four sentences or less. Eliminate all unnecessary words. Pretend you are going to be paid $100 for every word you can remove. Then do it. I’m sorry to be the one to tell you this, but not every person who reads your writing is hanging on to every word. So get to your point fast so you can sell it.
3. Know your no’s
Last but certainly not least — know the difference between commonly confused words – you may be thinking, “now I know when to say no to certain words.” One slip up of they’re/their/there and you have just discredited your brilliant case. Not sure if you’re providing counsel or council? Here is a list of commonly confused words.
Sometimes in PR we interview or media train subject matter experts who are so smart in content – meaning they know a lot about a particular topic, but where we can help is to take that information and make it a quick, easy read, reaching a broader audience.
Laura Grossmann Jacobs is an Account Supervisor in Ketchum’s Chicago Corporate and Healthcare practice. Her experience spans across pharmaceuticals, biotech, medical device companies, as well as health care providers and clinicians. Laura also is certified in nutrition through the Ketchum Nutrition Certification Program developed in collaboration with Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy.