Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Essays in the Real (Corporate) World

I've always enjoyed writing essays, but I only enjoy reading good ones.

Lesson to writers: if your essays aren't good, they won't enchant readers. Of course, many writers (and students) don't enjoy, nor do they have found memories of, writing essays. As a story on NPR noted years ago:

Comedians call them monologues. Editorialists call them columns. And college applicants call them something we can't repeat.

So what do you call them?

Do you enjoy writing them?

And does the essay have any place in today's business world?

To that last question, I answer yes. The essay, in a modified form, is found in corporate newsletters, position papers, and in training materials.

Do Essays Belong in Business? 

Corporate America likes to rename (or more accurately I should say, "rebrand") things all the time.

But it's often a thin disguise. What is the CEO's message to employees or the Director's letter to the Board if it's not an essay? It's not really a report - rather, it's a personal spin on and an introduction to an annual report or shareholders' statement.

What's an essay good for? 

The classic essay is a tool designed to make you (the writer) think and when you put your thoughts (and your words) in good order, it will make your reader think, too. When you do a really good job, the reader is likely to decide he agrees with you.

So what? When you find someone who can write a really persuasive essay, you've just found someone who can write a great sales proposal.

Also, the skills required to write a good essay also come in handy when drafting a new company policy, or rewriting the employee handbook.

Go ahead, bash the liberal arts education all you want. When it's time to communicate with your employees, constituents, prospects, or shareholders, look to the person who will admit "yeah, I like writing essays."

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