(Michael Roosevelt is the instructor behind our new Proficiency1 course, Writing for Your Executive Customer: The Keys to Analytic Writing with Impact.)
For most of the 30 years I spent at the CIA, I was a writer surrounded by others who wrote for a living. At the end of my career, I took an assignment managing people who created programs that supported the entire Agency. These were accomplished, seasoned professionals who knew their jobs inside out, but almost all of them struggled with writing. That was a problem because a big part of their job included preparing background papers, briefing slides, and talking points for some of the most senior executives in the organization.
In a “no duh” moment of clarity, it dawned on me that a core skill – analytic writing – that I’d taken for granted for decades was a real challenge for some people. As I thought about how to develop this skill in the officers who worked for me, I narrowed my focus to what I viewed as the most indispensable attributes of effective analytic writing:
- Clarity. Good analytic writing must clearly identify the subject being written about, with a bottom line right up front that’s obvious to a knowledgeable reader.
- Relevance. The bottom line requires support from solid, relevant evidence and reasoning, with no extraneous details to distract the reader.
- Impact. The reader needs to come away from the written piece with a clear understanding of why the issue is important enough for them to care about it.
With time and practice, my employees began proactively to embrace these three elements in their writing and, as a result, they saw tangible benefits for themselves in the form of positive feedback from their senior customers.
I won’t sugarcoat things. Good writing is hard work, and effective analytic writing requires an added level of intellectual rigor. As my employees found out, though, it was very doable and definitely preferable to their previous struggles.
This is why I created my Proficiency1 course Writing for Your Executive Customer: The Keys to Analytic Writing With Impact. In it I share strategies to help writers take advantage of their existing skills to convey a written analytic message with clarity, relevance, and impact. I’m confident the lessons in my course will help individuals in any field, in the public or private sector, to provide better products to their senior customers, improve their writing skills, and increase their value within their organizations. If this sounds like something that would benefit you, take a look at my course and begin the process of improving your analytic writing skills.