What’s your 50 word story? | Communications No.3

Communication Tips 3 Title Image

Advising fellow communications colleagues on how to write more concisely was the aim of my session at a team meeting on Tuesday last week. It is important, especially when communicating internally, to get messages over in short and succinct paragraphs. I’m going to explain how you can do the same.   

[See what I did there] 

In a writing session with the previous editor of our internal communications, we learnt how to write in just 50 words. We spent some time looking through articles in newspapers, which demonstrated that often, the first two short paragraphs do give the full story, and cover 6 key points; who, what, where, when, why and how. Since this session, I have delivered a short version covering the key points to a couple of teams internally. 

The best way to explain how to do this most effectively is for me to tell a story, reduce it to 50 words, then break it down, to demonstrate where these 6 key points lie. 

A couple of weeks ago at work we had a meeting during the day to wrap up and review the final stats and achievements from the Punnet campaign we ran during Wimbledon. I did some filming during the day, of the team and they talked about what they did for the team, something they were proud of and then also each team member said one would which described their experience in the team. After work, a few of us headed to the bar next door to celebrate with some wine and beers. I had a train booked that evening to head back north to see family and friends so left around 7.15pm. During the train journey I edited the video together using Adobe Premier Pro, to create a round up video.

Sure – cool story? But if this was breaking news, how could I make that story much shorter, whilst giving all the key points? 

A few weeks ago, the Punnet team and I went in front of the camera to document things we had learned over the course of the campaign. I used Adobe Premier Pro to combine all the clips, and created a fun yet useful video that we can share internally.

A few weeks ago [when], the Punnet team and I [who] went in front of the camera [what] to document things we had learned over the course of the campaign [why]. I used Adobe Premier Pro to combine all the clips [how], and created a fun yet useful video that we can share internally [where]. 
Things to remember when using this technique: 

1/ Not necessarily ideal for blogs and more personal pieces of writing 

2/ The order of the content, sometimes then when and where is the most important element, in other times the what and why – order the content in the most appropriate way.

3/ Great for communications that need to be short and to the point, in particular news stories.

4/ Who, what, why, when, where, how

A great thought process to consider when writing at work, from an editor with years of experience. Thanks for Jackie Mitchell who taught myself and my team this. 

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