‘Powerful Writing Changes Lives’: 5 Tips From an Award-Winning Author

‘Powerful Writing Changes Lives’: 5 Tips From an Award-Winning Author
Photo by Paul Bradbury/Getty Images

“Great topic and outstanding presenter!” characterized responses to the engaging and interactive session renowned author Col. Carla D. Bass, USAF (Ret), presented for MOAA’s series of career webinars.


Her battle cry is, “Powerful writing changes lives!” She asserts, “Powerful writing correlates directly to success. Gain that critical edge with text … clear, concise and compelling!” In a webinar entitled “Seize Your Future: Write to Influence,” Bass, a Life Member of MOAA, presented her unique methodology from her multiple award-winning book, Write to Influence!


Here’s a sample of tips for those unable to participate in the webinar. These apply to résumés, cover letters, post-interview thank-you notes, performance reviews, budget justifications, grant applications, even essays for college applications! Regardless of your goal, these tips will help you achieve it!


[MOAA Premium and Life Members: Watch the Webinar | Upgrade for Access]


1. Know Your Audience

This is the cardinal rule in writing. Compose your message from the readers’ perspective. What does the audience need from you? What do you need from the audience? Use appropriate terminology – technical for subject-matter experts, more general for policymakers. This pertains to all communiques, whether addressing hiring managers or responding to congressional inquiries.


2. Strategize Your Approach

You know your audience, the general message, and the desired results. Other strategies to compose the draft include “Anticipate and Answer Questions,” “Don’t Bury the Gold Nugget,” “First the What Then the How,” and “Add Detail for Context.” She demonstrates the strategy, then challenges the audience with flawed examples to correct.


3. Make Each Word Count

One of the biggest takeaways from the webinar was the notion of word sculpting. Bass shares four tools to purge a draft of extraneous text. For example, “Verbs Are Your Friends: Rely on Them,” transforms has the potential to simply could. “Words That Hog Space” transforms for the purpose of to simply to. With these tools, you can effectively convey your message in fewer words. Great for you and the reader!


4. Revise, Edit, and Proofread

Your credibility is at stake! Each step is distinct; each is necessary. Failure can torpedo your chance for success. Bass suggests proofreading backwards, beginning from the end of the document, to avoid getting caught in your own storyline. The Navy’s Yeoman Class “A” School also teaches this technique for administrative professionals.


5. Catapult Your Career!

Another potential tool for your kit! Bass recently launched her online course, Catapult Your Career – Write to Influence! She brings her book to life for you, personally demonstrating … step by step … how to craft that compelling message for each phase of the employment cycle and, once you nail that job, proven tips to excel. This three-hour course includes textual scavenger hunts and instances of verbal ping pong. It comprises seven modules, which you can enjoy as time permits! Engaging and interactive … fun and effective!


[RELATED: More About the Online Course]  


MOAA Premium and Life members have access to a résumé critique, LinkedIn profile review, and career counseling, as well as other exclusive benefits; learn more about what’s offered at our Transition and Career Center. Premium and Life members can also access our archived transition and career webinars, including this one, via MOAA’s Webinar Archive page.


Not a Premium or Life member? Check out MOAA.org/join for information on joining MOAA or upgrading your membership.


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About the Author

Capt. Pat L. Williams, USN (Ret), PhD, PHR®
Capt. Pat L. Williams, USN (Ret), PhD, PHR®

Williams serves as MOAA's Program Director, Engagement and Transition Services. She served 35 years in the Navy in multiple high visibility leadership positions. She is a Certified Professional in Human Resources.