Tips on developing a more engaging writing style for HR projects

Hi everyone, 

I am looking for recommendations of books, workbooks or courses for myself. My writing style is matter of fact & I am looking to develop a more creative and engaging style as I am taking on more engagement, recruitment and value add HR projects. 

Thank you

  • Just add stuff like, "exciting opportunity', 'fast growing company', unique opportunity, excellent benefits/competitive salary'. etc., etc.,

    I can't really help but this will bump the post up again.
    ||David. ;-)
  • In reply to David Perry:

    Never fear, this particular David's here too........
    - can't help much though, I'm afraid, save to strongly recommend wide reading and writing about all manner of serious (both novelists' and poets') 19th and 20th century literature (Open University can be useful in this regard) and usually skills will develop as you progress.
  • In reply to David:

    PS Laura

    It may have been gathering dust in the Central Archaeological Library, but there’s many a new tune that can be played on an old fiddle as they say and this in its day was regarded as the standard and superlative Guide for good reason:


    Best wishes with it all!
  • In reply to David:


    Effective communication / plain words and creative writing are of course very different things - and skills, Laura. This for example (by the usual culprit - couldn’t resist it!) is creative alright but hardly plain:

    Words move, music moves
    Only in time; but that which is only living
    Can only die. Words, after speech, reach
    Into the silence. Only by the form, the pattern,
    Can words or music reach
    The stillness, as a Chinese jar still
    Moves perpetually in its stillness.
    Not the stillness of the violin, while the note lasts,
    Not that only, but the co-existence,
    Or say that the end precedes the beginning,
    And the end and the beginning were always there
    Before the beginning and after the end.
    And all is always now. Words strain,
    Crack and sometimes break, under the burden,
    Under the tension, slip, slide, perish,
    Will not stay still. Shrieking voices
    Scolding, mocking, or merely chattering,
    Always assail them. The Word in the desert
    Is most attacked by voices of temptation,
    The crying shadow in the funeral dance,
    The loud lament of the disconsolate chimera.

  • Download Grammarly and you can choose which tone you wish to use - not much of a change, but it might help you consider different words as you go?
  • In reply to Beth Alexandra:

    Applies not just to writing poetry!


    I would make a poem
    Precise as a pair of scissors, keen,
    Cold and asymmetrical, the blades
    Meeting like steel lovers to define
    The clean shape of the image.

    I would make a poem
    Organic as an orchid, red
    Flowers condensed from dew, with every lobe
    Fitted like a female to receive
    The bee’s fathering head.

    I would make a poem
    Solid as a stone, a thing
    You can take up, turn, examine and put down;
    Bred of the accident of rain and river,
    Yet in its build as certain as a circle,
    An axiom of itself.

    (Norman Cornthwaite Nicholson, 1914-1987)
  • My wife went on a creative writing course. They may be advertised by community groups, libraries and the like. She enjoyed it. I'm sure google of , "town+creative writing" will come up with something.
  • Just as a side note...sometimes in employee communication (depending on the subject) matter of fact can be better and more appropriate than creative. True engagement is more about the what rather than the how it is being said

    Could you perhaps give an example of where you perceive this to be a problem?
  • Hello Laura

    I am a huge fan of https://www.thewriter.co.uk/ and have turned to it many times when I have got completely stuck with something.
  • In reply to Keith:

    That would be my perspective as well. Over the years in HR, I have spent quite a bit of time and thought to drafting announcements, policies and other documents that go out to the whole staff that are "precise as a pair of scissors". You have to sacrifice an elegant turn of phrase and aim at complete absence of ambiguity. In my last job, I would often have in mind our lone workers in remote parts of the country who worked at weekends, i.e. they had no colleague or manager to refer to at the time and the support departments were also closed. Everything I sent out had to be crystal clear at the first reading - which is a good reason to use a cliché such as "crystal clear" rather than find a more arresting synonym, because everyone knows what the cliché means.

    I have also occasionally written for a couple of magazines: I've written book reviews, I've contributed to a column on quirky places to visit (the handcuff collection in the Police Museum in Tetbury, Glos, if you're ever down that way), and various other subjects. It is a very different skill. It's fun to be able to show more personality in your writing and maybe even some wit, but I am quite ruthless about excluding anything extraneous from anything I send out as HRD.

    If you are interested in writing, there are lots of books you might enjoy: Partridge's Usage and Abusage is an oldie but goodie, Lynne Truss's Eats Shoots and Leaves, and The Economist Style Guide are 3 that I like, although they all major on clarity rather than creativity.
  • In reply to Elizabeth:

    Mentioned this to my wife who’s presently doing a free Open University creative writing course. In addition to OU ( and with same cautions about the differences between creative writing and effective business communications) she highly recommends searching Coursera online who seem to link to all kinds of suitable looking material
  • Hi Laura, I discovered this gap in my skills set too and have spent a number of years doing formal training, reading and learning to improve my employee comms skills. It's helped me flex my style depending on the audience, purpose, context, culture and results I want to have.

    I'd recommend checking out:
    *Talk like Ted - excellent. Fierce conversations -also excellent.
    *You could also look at Communication Skills for Dummies. I've not read it personally yet I find that series a good start for so many topics.
    *Working with, learning from and being mentored by Marketing and Comms colleagues.
    *CIM courses on marketing communications and writing.
    * www.cathywilcoxtraining.com/ Cathy Wilcox is someone I've known, used and rated for many years. She's a former lawyer and her training and coaching is excellent. I'm not on commission :-)
    *Practising your own writing with different mediums like blogging or tweeting both of which helped me with brevity.

    I also ask for feedback on all the writing I ever do for clients. It can be brutal at times but it helps. Finally, one key word to try and avoid is 'but'....I went to one course where they suggested always try and avoid it and use 'and' or another word instead. Good luck. Learning more about communicating well and not writing everything like a policy or in the same way, truly helps HR.
  • In reply to Beth Alexandra:

    Thank you - I will download this as I think that would help me from becoming repetitive
  • In reply to Keith:

    Hi Keith,

    Thanks for coming back to me. Sorry for the delay in looking at responses. I'm working on projects such as introducing new maternity benefits & it's more the communications to the team about these.
  • In reply to Liz:

    I've just had a browse of this - looks fantastic. Thank you