When you are asked to write something about yourself – a bit of blurb, a biog, an application saying what you have done, who you are, what you want to do next – does your writing sound like you, or do you use ‘form-speak’?
I recently looked over four application forms (the deadline for the Clore Leadership programme intake for 2012/13 was last week and since I’m on Clore 2011/12 people made the erroneous assumption I might know what they were looking for). My main comment across all of them was ‘great content but it doesn’t sound like you’.
Interesting, diverse, witty, articulate people had reduced themselves to ‘form-speak’ describing themselves and their achievements in outmoded managerial terms rather than expressing their own unique personality through what they created. Interesting.
I asked why and the resounding response was ‘I thought that’s what they would want’. Interesting.
So instead of expressing themselves authentically, everyone had blunted their writing to fit an assumed notion of what someone else might want. Likely to work? No.
We talked and they all revised their applications. They all went on to write clear, inspiring copy in which I could see each person reflected in both their words and their delivery. (Good luck all!).
And I took away a valuable lesson. I’m off now to check all my ‘stock’ blurbs and biogs today, and planning to keep my eyes more widely open when I’m asked to describe what I do. I can’t make them banish ‘form-speak’ and then use it myself!