I’ve been thinking of ways to get even better at communicating. Blogging and volunteering to do lots of presentations has helped me figure out what I want to talk about and how I want to talk about it, and I’m looking forward to exploring this further over the years. What could really help me take this to the next level, though, is working with a professional who can bring experience and a critical eye. An editor can help me distill my blog posts and presentations to the essential message, hold me accountable when I dither or when I skip over things that should be explained, and challenge me to express myself more clearly and vividly.
Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve ever gotten that kind of detailed writing or presentation feedback. Teachers are typically too busy to help each student figure out their core messages and refine them through successive drafts. At work, I’ve bounced ideas back and forth, wordsmithing with others, but nothing like what I hope to learn by working with editors.
I want to know:
- What’s the key message people will find valuable, and how can I communicate that message more clearly?
- Where am I skipping too quickly over things I should explain further? Where am I spending too many words on a concept?
- Do the words and paragraphs or slides flow well? What could improve the structure?
- Where can I be more vivid or more precise? Where do my words distract from my message?
- How can I express these thoughts more clearly and more memorably?
I don’t just want feedback on typos or suggestions for individual word changes (unless those make spectacular differences), just as I don’t want my speaking evaluations to focus just on “ums”, “ahs” and vocal variety. ;) I want to get to that deeper level of value.
Considering the benefits of great communication skills, I think this is well worth using my opportunity fund—particularly if I can figure out how to create even more value with the results. (E-books? Articles? Awesome presentations?)
So, three weeks ago, I posted a quick job ad on oDesk:
I’m looking for an editor with an excellent command of English, a familiarity with blogging style (short, conversational, personal), a knack for presentation flow, and the ruthlessness to cut and rearrange words until a piece flows well and is no longer than it needs to be. I want someone to help me trim the occasional blog article and presentation until it’s clear.
You will not need to write content (or fake reviews, or astroturf comments, or do other icky things). Just edit to make sure that every word counts.
Turnaround doesn’t need to be immediate – you can fit this work around your other work.
When applying for this job, please submit before and after samples of your editing. The best applicants will have examples of both edited blog posts and edited presentations, and an innate hatred of business jargon such as “utilize”, “incentivize,” and “leverage” (when used as a verb).
If you would like to see my writing style to see if we’re compatible, check out http://sachachua.com for my blog posts and http://slideshare.net/sachac for my presentations. I write a lot of raw material which I occasionally refine into more useful articles, and I would like to take that writing to the next level. I also tend to obsess a bit about the logical flow and organization of presentations, and I would love to be able to bounce ideas off an editor who knows his or her work and who can provide fresh perspectives.
Looking at the list of candidates, I can’t help but want to hire them all. =)
It always amazes me that there are so many people in the world who can do things so much better than I can, and that with a little investment of time and money, I can tap their skills. Someday, I want to learn how to create even more opportunities to create value. I want to be able to bring people together to build even more complex things. Wouldn’t it be amazing to find and solve problems or make new things possible, working together with people who are doing what they love? The world is a candy-store of opportunities and talent, and I can’t wait to explore it further.
But first things first, of course. How can I work with editors so that I can learn what I want to learn, and how can I use this opportunity to practice creating value?
I’ve written a lot on my blog, and it would be interesting to review that archive, figure out what might have some kernel of value for others, and learn more about my thoughts and my voice. As I do that, I can pick the most promising posts, send them to this team of editors, and ask their feedback using the questions above. If their suggestions are enough to prod and inspire me, I might go and try to implement them. If I think there’s some more potential that I haven’t been able to reach, I can ask them to apply their editing magic to it, and I can learn from their example.
So that’s my plan. I’m sure I’ll learn a lot from it! Have you thought of or done any similar experiments before? I’d love to read your thoughts!
Editing feedback on the Shy Connector