Wanted: poets to turn corporate speak into messages that matter

Wanted: poets to turn corporate speak into messages that matter
September 21, 2015 Beth Nyland

You know what the business world needs? Poets.

Poets carefully choose and arrange words to express an idea, paint a picture, or tell a story.

When you’re communicating at work, isn’t that exactly what you need to do? Whether you’re selling a product, explaining a policy, or requesting funds, you have to carefully choose and arrange the words.

Show me what you mean.
Remind me why I care.
Convince me to believe.
Get me so involved that I’ll take action.

Better yet, poets write lines we remember and repeat.

Quick: rattle off a nursery rhyme; recite a line from Dr. Seuss; sing your favorite song. Someone—a poet—composed those lines in a way that connected with you. Their impression was so effective that you can remember and repeat the words now.

In the cluttered chaos of your crowded brain, a poet makes words sticky and shareable.

Just think what a difference that could make in your own communications. When you need to deliver messages that matter—words people will remember, ideas they’ll want to pass along—a little poetry can be powerful.

There’s more to poetry than rhyme.

Before you start writing all your email messages in rhyming couplets, stretch your memory back to the English teacher who tried to get you interested in poetry. (If you were sick that day, Google “poetic devices” for a quick lesson.) Good business writers use techniques like alliteration and assonance, similes and metaphors, and repetition.

Skeptical? Don’t be. This is how I write every day, and my clients keep coming back for more. The approach works so well that I have a new job title: Corporate Poet. Jill Pollack (founder of StoryStudio Chicago’s Words for Work program, where I teach business writers to be creative communicators) gets full credit for inventing the label. But now it’s mine. I’ve made it part of my personal brand. I consider myself THE corporate poet. One of a kind. That title is mine, all mine.

On second thought, I’m not that greedy.

The business world needs more poetry. You should be a corporate poet, too.

To hear more about this topic, listen to this EE Voice podcast, where hosts Sharon McIntosh and Sharon Phillips talked with me about techniques for turning corporate speak into corporate poetry.

Photo credit: Thomas Hawk via Flickr



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