Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Top 6 elements for a good draft

Keeping the 6 elements listed below will improve the chances of continuous success and victory in realizing what you expect. In short, they allow you to be better in art of good drafting.

1. Present the case with a Perspective: The catch is just that the perspective should not be yours. It should be that of your readers.

When your client is reading a proposal, they have a notional impression of what they want to see. Hence the writing should contain business style and highlighting of key value elements. Fast forward it to reading a Statement of Work, it contains the same proposal content, but now this is a legally binding document. Hence qualitative adjectives need to replace with quantitative adjectives. Same goes for a business brochure vs capability document. Both highlight the same, but a business brochure can be in third person language (like "the team has excelled in many implementations"), while the same in a capability document must have a protogonist feel ("We, as a team have excelled in many implementations"). The differences are subtle, but the expressive form requires adaptation based on the document purpose. The purpose as you can see is determined by reader and not by you.

2. Add Your Take: This is your forte. This is critical to establish a rapport, your reputation. This section gives the reader a reason to spend time on your draft. It is important to let them know that you have thought through what is shared with them. Which side, what points you want to present and how is it that you position them is the only unique factor in the document.
Any draft ending as an information dump should not be shared at all
. Be it any form of request/response communication or a documentation to share across your readers, offer your take on the subject. You have to say something that is your own derived from the information presented. An example could be "Based on the case, I believe we should take action in following key areas." In this world of easy one-touch publishing, giving your take on a subject is all that can be a unique factor.

3. Place the Hooks: How are you sure, that your draft and pain staking provisioning of pages of information is read? It is important that you get the message back. One way is to provide with enough options to allow the reader to get in touch with you. But not many will attempt giving their views.

To have a fair understanding that your readers have read/skimmed/analysed the document, you need to place hooks that allow your users to pause/take a break and brood on the subject. After enough instances, provide means to prod them reach you. All the time, it is not necessary that they will come up with questions. At times, it is to pass a good comment, give their reactions in a single word (like/not like).

Hooks, unlike other elements needs to be strewn in the document. Your writing should make the reader become an actor and visioning the play that just watching it.

4. Where is the Key:
Are there pointers and take-away from your document for further action ? The action could be using the document details to verify facts, google for more information or use some of them in another document that I am working on (well, some may call it piracy and copyright violation. Be careful about that.)

The keys when being visual or represented in a visualization help place the point across in a non-boring and amplified fashion. So do not discard visuals in your document and do not over do it. Since keys should not be more than 6 to remember as a take away. In commercial documents, it is mostly the final price value that is read and discussed.

5. Develop Intuition to decide what you would like as Judgement:
This is not part of the written document, but should be the goal of the document. In my school days, one of my classmates used to write answers to questions in class test and used to lift the paper, move it away from her and think about it. Then she used to ask me, is this answer worth 10 marks? Now I realize that she somehow cared to develop the intuition about the judgement that she wants and would receive. Then I observed that she did what she thought would fetch her marks. Sometimes, coloring and highlighting important phrases, sometimes writing more, sometimes keeping it to last. I used to wonder what message did she get by lifting, moving it away and thinking about it?

It was fun and stylish to do so. So, I followed it and recently my dad told me that I always guessed the marks I would score correctly immediately after giving the exams. I still do so. Read through proposals, rehearse presentations and ask myself, is what I do worth getting the order? Will leave the outcome to your guesses :)

Developing the intuition to verify if the judgement would be in your favor, is a quality trait that you need to bring in for good drafting.

6. Call to Action:
When we speak creativity, we always envision a canvas painting or a visual depiction (say infographics.) Draft is equivalent and is an art of playing with words. It is a verbal art. Just as art pieces attract you to think, good documents should attract you to take action.

With time being a constraint and constant bombardment of information from various sources, we cannot practice what artists have the luxury. The luxury is their prospective customers, spend their time for looking at their work in galleries or take time to appreciate it.

We don't get that luxury. So better to incorporate explicit call to action statements in your documents.
Call us, email us, let us know what you feel are all statements of intent to take the relationship forward.

So what do you think ?

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