Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Presenting Tips From Warren Buffet

Prov­ing that good writ­ing and presentation can be found any­where, writer Nancy Fried­man points to Berk­shire Hath­away CEO War­ren Buffett’s annual reports as exam­ples of excel­lent copy­writ­ing. These points are very much in lock step with Made to Stick and Resonate - this gives another point of view.

Fried­man sub­mits that we can learn to write bet­ter copy by study­ing War­ren Buffett’s annual reports, offer­ing these six tips, high­lighted after study­ing his annuals:
  • Tell sto­ries. Read­ing a Berk­shire annual report is like sit­ting across a booth in a diner with a great con­ver­sa­tion­al­ist pos­sessed of both intel­li­gence and insa­tiable curiosity. The second S in the Made to Stick SUCCES model.
  • Use vivid language. This makes thing both concrete and credible.
  • Talk about peo­ple. It’s one thing to say, as almost every­one does, that busi­ness is about peo­ple. It’s another thing entirely to por­tray those peo­ple fully fleshed and full of foibles.
  • Be gen­er­ous with humour. Every Berk­shire annual brims with jokes (includ­ing some groan­ers), drollery, and wit - this makes things unexpected.
  • Get to the point. “Be fear­ful when oth­ers are greedy and greedy when oth­ers are fear­ful,” Buf­fett writes. That’s an entire busi­ness phi­los­o­phy in twelve words. Simple statement.
  • Let your enthu­si­asm show. Emotion
Buf­fett wrote the won­der­ful pref­ace to the SEC’s A Plain Eng­lish Hand­book: How to cre­ate clear SEC dis­clo­sure doc­u­ments (pdf). He offers this “uno­rig­i­nal but use­ful tip”:
Write with a spe­cific per­son in mind. When writ­ing Berk­shire Hathaway’s annual report, I pre­tend that I’m talk­ing to my sis­ters. I have no trou­ble pic­tur­ing them: Though highly intel­li­gent, they are not experts in account­ing or finance. They will under­stand plain Eng­lish, but jar­gon may puz­zle them. My goal is sim­ply to give them the infor­ma­tion I would wish them to sup­ply me if our posi­tions were reversed. To suc­ceed, I don’t need to be Shake­speare; I must, though, have a sin­cere desire to inform.
That’s the key; pic­tur­ing your audi­ence as intel­li­gent non-experts. I think this is the same key idea when dealing with our kishores and kishoris - they are also intelligent non-experts. Thoughts? 

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