COM0014 Blog post #2: How zombies have improved my writing

Writing well is hard work. I have been in communications for nearly two decades now and even now, I’m still learning. And after 20 years in the industry, I learned my two favourite tips only in the last couple years, both of which are referenced in this week’s course reading:

  1. Passive voice vs active voice
  2. Asking questions

Passive voice vs active voice and how zombies can help.


Isn’t this guy cute?! You can get him on a shirt here:

One of my more recent assignments was to rewrite several hundred customer letters for a national bank. And no one likes passive voice more than a bank that doesn’t want to be blamed for anything. Everything was written in the passive voice: “the error was caused …”, or “the credit will be refunded…”, and the list goes on.

But here’s my zombie trick… if you can put “by zombies” where the action is taking place, then you have a passive sentence. “The error was caused… by zombies.” “The credit will be refunded… by zombies.” If there are zombies in your writing, then you need to rewrite!

Asking questions and generating discussion.

I took a training course in a methodology called “Kepner Tregoe.” Essentially, it’s a way of thinking to help determine the root cause of an issue, whether it’s a technology issue, or a personal issue, it can all be solved by KT. What stuck with me was the way they provoked thinking and discussion.

Instead of asking if anyone has any questions after a presentation, which is a closed question anyway, turn the question around and ask “What questions do you have?” This forces the audience to think back on the content, and uses an open question to push the audience into responding. It’s an effective technique and I find I use it all the time!

What tricks do you use to help you remember grammar rules? And… what questions do you have? 😉

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