Business Communication Posts

Sprinkle Similes into Your Business Writing

Paul Barton Communications business writing

By Barbara McNichol
Guest Blogger

Teaching a weekly fitness class—like writing weekly business messages— can get repetitious. A good instructor motivates action while guiding people in their exercises. My instructor likes to interject colorful similes to keep us going. And I suspect it’s also her way of staying sharp and engaged, too.

Here’s an example of her colorful use of language. Describing what not to do while on all fours, she said, “Think of an overburdened mule in a spaghetti Western movie and don’t slump your back like that.” Later, while on our tummies, she told us to lift our arms “like you’re jumping out of an airplane.” Great visual!

Her imagery boosts our enjoyment and helps make the point of the exercise stick. And what’s good for fitness is also good for your writing. Sprinkle similes and other figures of speech into your prose so readers can visualize your point more easily.

Examples from a fitness class:

“Drop your head to your shoulder like it’s a 10-pound bowling ball.”

“Flatten your back like you could put a tray of food on it.”

For over 50s who remember typewriters: “Shift your ribs to the side like the carriage on a typewriter.”

Example from a book:

This excerpt is from Martha Beck’s Finding Your Own North Star. I recommend Martha’s books for the sheer delight of seeing how she applies similes, metaphors, and other figures of speech to her points and stories.

If you’re planning to wait for them [your family] to locate your true path, draw you a careful map, pack you a lunch, and drive you to your North Star, you might want to take up needlework. I hear it passes the time.

Similes lead to smiles. Use them in your business writing whenever you can!


Phoenix Public Speaking Barbara McNicholOn a crusade to boost the quality of business writing, Barbara McNichol conducts Writing Essentials WordShops and edits nonfiction books. Over the past 24 years, she has placed more than 350 books on her editor’s “trophy shelf.” She is the author of Word Trippers: Your Ultimate Source for Choosing the Right Word When It Really Matters.

On an ongoing basis, you’ll gain valuable writing tips by requesting her free monthly ezine Add Power to Your Pen and subscribing to her Word Trippers Tips program (details at

Feel free to contact Barbara at 520-615-7910 or and connect on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


Quick Internal Communications Tip: Tapping Into Naturally Occurring Business Communications

One of the secrets of effective internal communications is finding out and understanding how the business is communicating with itself already and then figuring out how to tap into those naturally occurring business communication channels with internal communications messaging.

Do a little digging and discover what reports, what meetings, what dashboards, what manuals, what regularly occurring interactions are happening as part of the natural flow of business. Dig a little deeper and find out more about the timing, content and delivery channels of these business communications. How, when and why are employees using these communications?

For instance, is there an opportunity to provide internal communications talking points to managers to use in their weekly staff meetings? In my experience, most managers welcome fresh content that they can personalize and incorporate into the meetings. It positions them as leaders in the know and gives them an opportunity to put corporate key messaging into context for their teams.

Can a hyperlink be inserted from an online report to relevant information on the intranet? This could serve to add context and relevance to the numbers and show how they relate to overall company business strategies.

Are there lessons to be learned from content that is considered crucial to the business that you can incorporate into internal communications channels?

Discovering exactly what communications make your business tick just might be the key to creating compelling content that is irresistible to your internal communications audience. It will take some digging but it will be worth the effort.


25% Discount for Public Speaking Workshop

In today’s fiercely competitive business climate, how well you present yourself can make the difference in getting ahead or going home.  When it comes to winning a new client, getting a project approved, or closing the deal, the smallest things can make the biggest difference.  You don’t want to blend in you want to stand out!

From shaking hands, exchanging business cards to storytelling these all have a powerful impression on how people perceive you. Most people underestimate the importance of these interactions and just get by. But by knowing a few simple secrets, you can turn that around.

You can learn these skills in our Speak Up and Stand Out workshop being presented in conjunction with the Phoenix Business Journal on July 27, from 11:30 a.m. until 1 p.m. at the Scottsdale Chamber of Commerce.

In this highly interactive workshop, you will master the basics of:

  • Using your body language to influence and include
  • Using storytelling in presentations to turn heads and win hearts
  • Introducing yourself to make a great first impression

You can register here for the workshop. Use this promo code to get a 25% discount: PHBB. Hope to see you there!