11th April 2017 Claire Hawes

5 skills business writers can learn from people who ski

Skiing, like business writing, is all about confidence and practice. Learn the right techniques, and skiers and business writers can overcome any fears they may have.

Skiing, like business writing, is all about confidence and practice. Learn the right techniques, and skiers and business writers can overcome any fears they may have.

I recently returned to skiing after a 20-year break. Hitting the powder again was exciting. But I also found myself nervous about gaining too much speed and not being in control.

Business writers can also suffer from anxiety. Fear of the blank page. Fear of imperfection. Fear of what people will think when you publish are common.

Yet, in skiing and writing, the real risk is often very different from perceived risk.

Since I returned from my holiday, I’ve thought a lot about what I learned from my ski lessons. As it turns out, a lot that could be useful for you:

1. Find your balance

Skiing requires balance in motion. ‘To be comfortable and in control, align your hips, knees and shoulders over your feet.’ Said my ski instructor. ‘At the same time put your hands out in front.’

Business writing also requires balance. Business writers need to understand the difference between copywriting and content writing. Copywriting is persuasive writing for selling. Content is for informing.

Get the balance right by getting to know your:

  • Audience
  • Their problems
  • And how you can help them

If your readers find your information useful and relevant, they’ll be more likely to take action.

2. Lean forward

Skiing goes against natural instincts… which probably accounts for my fears. One of the biggest mistakes beginner skiers make is leaning backward. ‘Lean forward and put pressure on the front of your skis,’ said my ski instructor. ‘Do this, and you’ll maintain and control your speed on steep slopes. Whatever the condition of the snow.’

I mentioned earlier the business writer’s fear of the blank page. Where on earth do you start?

Of course, you can overcome this fear by having a good plan. It could be as simple as laying out your page as it will appear as the finished product. Organise your content into sections, lists, bullets and so on. Then fill in the blanks.

3. Adjust your technique for the terrain and the conditions

From glorious powder to morning icy hard pack and Easter slush. Being a good skier means you need to be able to cope with any condition the mountain throws at you.

Similarly, business writers need to adjust their tone of voice dependent on the products and services they promote. You need to be clear about:

  • Your audience
  • The aim of the communication
  • What you want the reader to do, or learn

4. Up, down, flow

‘Think like a panther,’ said my ski instructor. ‘Keep your upper body quiet. Bend your knees and shift your weight over your downhill ski to start a turn. Exit your turn by standing up and returning your weight to both skis. Up, down, up, down.’

Accordingly, rhythm is also important in business writing. When you read, you hear the words in your head. So it makes sense to write as you speak. Check you can read each sentence you write in a single breath. Read your copy out loud before you publish it.

5. Practice. Practice. Practice

‘Practice as often and as much as you can,’ said my ski instructor. ‘After a while, you won’t have to think about the techniques anymore. Your body will just do it.’

Likewise, business writers should read and write as much as they can. Don’t stick to business copy. Write for pleasure. As a result, you’ll find your writing will start to flow naturally. Better still, you’ll spend less time agonising over every word.

And finally

If you still feel nervous about putting pen to paper, or simply don’t have the time to write marketing copy. Know you can outsource your copywriting to a professional. Copywriters make it their time to research, interview, write, edit and proofread for you.

Claire Hawes, copywriter and owner of The Content BoutiqueAbout Claire Hawes

Claire Hawes is a marketing communications copywriter. She enjoys writing engaging copy that helps businesses to get noticed and attract enquiries. Claire’s experience mainly lies in the business to business sector. Her clients include both businesses and digital marketing agencies.

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