Getting good at writing words (on paper or screen) is one of the fastest ways to take your product management practice to the next level.
I sometimes noodle on creating an online course on “writing for product managers.” In the process, useful writing tips keep popping up.
These tips will help you make your product management writing more persuasive, easier to read, more engaging, and more effective overall.
Some of the tips reflect topics I’ve covered before. Others I will cover in the future. And some are just obvious! But they are all things I watch out for or use in my own writing.
You can think of this post as a teaser for such a writing course itself. Subscribe to my mailing list to be sure to find out when and if the course becomes live.
And if you have an interest in the course, leave a comment. Let me know what would help you most in your product management writing.
Ten Writing Tips
If there’s an existing post related to the tip, I link to it (or them). The first five tips apply to any writing you do, for any audience:
- It’s about them – that is, the target audience for your writing – not you. Use their language, not your language.
- Don’t use jargon unless the reader will understand it. And if you do choose to use jargon, make sure you use it correctly!
- Write in a conversational style, no matter who your audience is. Conversational style (versus academic style) is far more persuasive. One way to test if your writing is conversational? Read it out loud. You’ll quickly notice if it sounds like a human being.
- Use a tool to check the readability score of your writing, and edit until the score is Grade 8 or lower. I use the Hemingway editor to help me with this. It works on Macs and has an online version as well. There are comparable tools for Windows. Or you can just use an online site like readability-score.com or readable.io.
- Use pictures if possible, especially for complex things. This is often the case in business or enterprise software
For writing targeted toward the customer or prospect:
- Use the value proposition format, or at least make sure you cover the key points of the value proposition: what your product does, the ideal customer (so the prospect can see him or herself as someone who needs this), what benefits the prospect gets, and why your solution is better than the other alternatives.
- Use personal goals achieved for social proof, not business goals. Prospects don’t only have a business problem, the business problem is causing personal problems as well.
- Use testimonials from existing customers, and use personal goals achieved if available. (And if not available, go do some more interviews and get those quotes.)
For writing that’s targeted toward developers and designers:
- When writing a spec, make sure the focus is on the problem the customer is experiencing. This will help the developers and designers create better solutions.
- Include the criteria for determining if the spec is satisfied, or the feature is “done” – i.e., acceptance tests.
Do you have writing tips that you use or recommend, especially in the context of product management? Let me know in the comments.
And, if you have an interest in the course, leave a comment. Help me understand what would help you most in your product management writing.
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Hello 🙂 Crisp and very well written. I am looking for online course on product management specifically if there is some small product feature where we can apply all the tips & perform hands on.
Niharika – thank you for the comment. I would love to hear more about what you’re looking for in a product management course. I have been thinking about how to make a “hands-on” course for all these techniques.
5. Use pictures if possible, especially for complex things. This is often the case in business or enterprise software +++
btw check Craft – awesome tool for Agile PM -> https://craft.io/
This is a great suggestion, and aligns with one of my biggest struggles!