How important are good writing skills for product managers?

The short answer is, really, really important.

You’ve written an MRD that (in your own mind) is a masterpiece, but no one’s reading it! You have to explain the gist of it in every meeting. Why? There are two primary reasons.

  1. It’s common for most people write like they talk instead of writing in a style that’s easiest to consume. Your writing could be too verbose and lose the reader. Keep in mind when you’re having a conversation it’s a dialogue and therefore easier to get your point across with facial expressions and body language. Reading is a monologue and requires a different style to be equally effective.
  2. Your writing is too technical and it takes the reader too long to get to the point. You’re explaining how to build the watch instead of answering the simple question, what time is it?

With the exception of white papers, there are few product manager artifacts that require narrative style writing. Try this approach and you should see immediate results.

  • Use bold headings and short bullet points (1-2 lines).
  • Where appropriate, use simple graphics or charts that get the point across without requiring the reader to actually read anything.

If someone can scan through your document and come to the conclusion you intended, you’ve nailed it. Now that’s a masterpiece!

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