On Tuesday, March 7, 2023, I made an approximate 5-minute presentation to Houstonâ€™s mayor, Sylvester Turner, and the Houston City Council. My presentation was largely about my newly released book, The Secret to Writing: 10 Secrets to Effective Communication Through Writing; though, I also referenced my doctoral research and my professional work with The Secret to Writing, LLC.
I think the presentation went well, and was well-received by the mayor and the members of the City Council. Yet, as I reflect on my brief speech and the message I sought to convey, I wonder if the audience truly understood or could appreciate why I am such an advocate for literacy and the value of writing skills in particular. The following three “fictitious” scenarios illustrate why I believe writing skills are so important:
An employee at your company writes a seemingly harmless email. As it turns out, the email is considered to be disparaging to someone or some group at your company or to your companyâ€™s core customer base. The next thing you know, your company is situated on the receiving end of negative press, finds itself as a defendant in a lawsuit, and thrust into a scramble to recover from plummeting sales revenue.
In this scenario #1, the employee, presumably, did not consider the impact and power of words, as well as the need to be both judicious and professional when communicating in writing and otherwise.
A student needs money for college and seeks to apply for a scholarship. The scholarship application requires, as is typically the case, that the student write an essay. The student is reluctant to apply for the scholarship because the student is apprehensive about writing. Or, vice versa, the student chooses to move forward with writing the scholarship essay but the quality of the student’s writing is so poor that the student fails to advance beyond the early stages of the scholarship selection process. In this scenario, the student is unsuccessful with the scholarship application, and sadly, the student is also unsuccessful in pursing the educational opportunity.
In this third scenario (unlike scenarios #1 and #2), a person seeking seed capital, a grant, or some other form of financing — arguably, has strong writing skills — and, consequently, both applies for funding and is successful in securing money. The individual is then, for instance, able to pursue his or her entrepreneurial dreams, or is able to fund a community program or nonprofit organization that happens to be in critical need of capital. What was the pivotal factor to secure funding? The requestor, as it were, was able to effectively communicate his or her thoughts, i.e., business case, through writing.
In these three scenarios, the value of writing skills is evident, significant, and real, giving further credence to the universal and higher principle that communication rests at the bedrock of human relations and is the foundation upon which relationships are born and die.
As I said to Mayor Turner and the Houston City Council, and as I say now: The Secret to Writing: 10 Secrets to Effective Communication Through Writing, with its practical and time-tested strategies for effective written (and ultimately, verbal) communication, is much more than a book. It is a tool that will add enduring value to your life. I promise.