When writing in the public sector, you might be required to create copy for policy documents, reports and briefings for a diverse group of people. One document could be tailored to stakeholders and elected members and the next, you’re producing content for funding bodies and the general public. You need to be able to adapt your writing accordingly.
To ensure your public sector writing skills are clear, confident and persuasive, follow these tips.
- Make Your Concept Clear
- Know Your Tone of Voice
- Be Succinct and Concise
- Clear Phrasing…
- ...And Simple Sentences
- Don’t Over Explain Everything
- Get Rid of Filler Words
- Back-Up Your Points
- Work on Your Persuasive Technique
- Be Adaptable
- Read Your Work Out Loud
- Proofread More Than Your Own Work
Make Your Concept Clear
Before you start writing, mentally explain the concept to yourself. Whether it’s policy documents to show to management or even a webpage for your website, ask yourself what the purpose of each document is. Find the concept, have a clear purpose and stick to it.
Know Your Tone of Voice
Don’t make the mistake of showing your personality too much in your writing. Although it can make your copy feel more engaging, think about how you should communicate as part of the public sector to maintain professionalism and ensure you resonate with your audience.
Be Succinct and Concise
Rather than getting your message across in a roundabout way, get straight to the point. Your audience might not have much time to waste and could switch off, missing key bits of information. By keeping your copy succinct and concise, you not only ensure the clarity of your messaging but it’ll also make your writing much sharper.
Think of the different types of people you’re writing for and how they might interpret your message. If you can think of simple alternatives for tricky words and phrases, use them. Be simple and direct.
...And Simple Sentences
Just like your words, terms and phrases need to be simple, so do your sentences. You’ll tend to find that long, complex sentences suit more literary pieces but not so much public sector writing. Short, less-complicated sentences are much easier to write, read and follow without the reader tripping up. Although, that doesn’t mean every sentence needs to be similar in length. Mix it up a little so your writing maintains a nice flow.
Don’t Over Explain Everything
It can be tempting to write down everything you can think of to add value to the readers. However, the idea is to give readers just enough to understand what you’re trying to tell them without overwhelming or boring them.
If you find yourself going in circles with the level of detail, look at each piece of information and work out how much actual value it will bring. If it doesn’t add anything, get rid of it. Your writing will be stronger without it.
Get Rid of Filler Words
Rambling and wordy writing can make text hard to read and in the public sector, you can’t afford to be unclear. Some words tend to show up in writing all the time but they don’t contribute much and could just clutter your messaging. Here are a few common examples you can eliminate right away.
- You basically don’t need these words. They’re essentially useless = You don’t need these words. They’re useless.
- Remove excess words in order to clean up your writing = Remove excess words to clean up your writing.
- During the course of this writing course, you’ll learn some new skills - During the writing course, you’ll learn some new skills.
Back-Up Your Points
There's no place for ambiguity in the messaging you convey. Whenever you make a statement, make sure to back it up with facts, figures and research. You shouldn’t expect your readers to swallow unsupported statements whole and they’re more likely to engage when there’s evidence available.
Work on Your Persuasive Technique
To frame your message in a way that gains a positive response every time, you need to be persuasive in your writing. Here are some useful tips to work on over time to boost your persuasiveness:
- Know your audience - you need to know who you’re talking to before you persuade them.
- Present opinions with declarative statements, facts or research findings to hook the reader’s attention.
- Research both sides as you have to know what you’re trying to get your audience to disagree with.
- Be empathetic as it shows you can relate to the person reading your content.
One of the most valuable skills to have is adaptability. As you’re likely to be moving from a blog post to a report and then social media posts before sending out emails, knowing how to adapt your writing style from one to the other will help you create more effective and engaging copy.
For example, you might have the skills to write an engaging blog post, but you need a different set of skills to sell that blog post in a tweet with a tight character limit. A good way to work on that is to be consistent with your writing. The more you write, the more you’ll improve and know what works better.
Read Your Work Out Loud
If you’re wondering whether your written content will flow when it’s with readers, reading out loud can help you determine if it’s as smooth as you’d like it to be. If you’re reading it and it sounds choppy and not quite right, then chances are your audience will feel the same. By saying it, you’ll notice things like sentence length, complex phrasing and other aspects which could do with a slight rewrite.
Proofread More Than Your Own Work
The first rule is to always proofread your work and use spellchecking tools to help. However, don’t just look over your own work and hit publish, grab an extra pair of eyes as somebody else from your team could spot something you didn’t. If others are also writing, offer to proofread theirs.
Not only will this help you improve your proofing skills but it also gives you a chance to see how others in your team are writing so you can continue to learn from each other.
These tips are a great starting point if you want readers to pay attention to your content. However, we’ve covered even more in a guide dedicated to public sector writing to ensure your writing is clear, easy-to-read and always engaging. Why not check it out below?
Create More Effective Written Content in the Public Sector
If you’re looking to write better reports, take minutes more effectively, work on your briefings or even brush up on your writing in general, then this guide is for you. We’ve catered it specifically to those new to content writing in the public sector so you can create copy that resonates.
To get your copy, click the link below.