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Finding the Story Part 1: The Appeal of Stories

Storytelling in business is fashionable and popular, including in financial services.

There is a large body of academic literature on the topic, specialist consultancies, training courses, websites and blogs all drawing our attention to the power of narrative.

Business storytelling has great appeal to experts, service providers and customers alike. Using stories helps make business more interesting. It helps us engage with subject matter that otherwise might be technical and dull.

Stories are a refreshing alternative to the jargonized consulting-speak that is widespread in business writing, especially financial services.

Stories are compelling. People love them. This blog explains why, without going into detail about the psychology, science or typology of storytelling, which is a whole topic on its own.

Writing for Business: helping you write better business English

Business writing skills have never been more in demand.

Almost everyone in their daily work needs to write clear, accurate business English.

Whether this is in the form of emails, letters, reports, minutes, digital copy, marketing materials, technical manuals or other formats.

Even tweets are increasingly a marketing tool for both business to business (B2B) and business to consumer (B2C) communications.

Yet not everyone is confident that their business writing skills are up to the standard they would like. Many people working in communications departments, HR or marketing teams, regardless of their native language, strive to write refined and polished business copy.

People working in IT or quantitative fields are often less comfortable writing business English than they are dealing with code or numbers. Many see the need to obtain specific training in business writing skills, to help them reach an even better standard of written English.

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Linnets, laughter, learning: #SfEP2017 conference highlights

Last year I was not very organised and managed to arrange a holiday exactly coinciding with #SfEP2016. Never again. This year I got it right. Holiday just before, no real thinking about ‘work’ or the day-to-day anxieties of life, just get on and do it.

And it did not disappoint. It was one of the most useful, enjoyable and professionally run events of my entire working life. I feel I made lifelong professional friends, learned lots, had some assumptions challenged and others reinforced. It was intensive but never grinding, enlightening but familiar, comfortable but new, jokey but serious.

And I got to sing with The Linnets, how rewarding is that?

Here are some of the highlights.

Flesh of my Flesch: Readability Matters

This blog explores the concept of readability.

It looks at some common readability metrics – notably Flesch Reading Ease, Flesch-Kincaid and a couple of others – and wonders why as writing and editing professionals we don’t make more use of them, to promote our skills and measure our own performance in an objective way.

The metrics are now widely available in Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) tools and word processing software – including Microsoft WORD.

There are whole websites devoted to readability, with free tools to check your own content in lots of different ways.

The tools themselves are objective, intuitive and easy to understand. And they function well for relative comparisons – across multiple authors or over time – even if you can argue about their absolute value.

We already use them at Prism-Clarity to assess our own blogs and try to make them more readable. The argument now is to try using them for other purposes, and to get more people tuned in to them.