Full Circle Communications

November 2011


past issues
Scan past issues on such topics as design tips for writers and speechwriting.

check us out
pass it on!
If you find the content in this newsletter useful, 
  • send it to a colleague (click on the icon below) 
  • share it through twitter, digg, etc.  
  • republish in your blog, newsletter, or other media (credit to the source)

Join Our Mailing List
ease in writing?
"Ease in writing" comes from a poem by Alexander Pope, the British poet:

True ease in writing comes from art, not chance,
As those move easiest who have learn'd to dance.

Note he (and I) didn't say "easy writing." But just as dance lessons can help get you around the floor more gracefully, the goal for this newsletter is to share a tip or two to improve your writing.

Feedback on Your Writing

A colleague asks you to review a draft. It doesn't wow Helping handyou, but you don't have a lot of time to think about why, so you just say, "Looks good, except I caught a few misspelled words." You can do better than that, even in the limited time available, can't you?

Or you have a memo, fact sheet, article, or other piece of writing that you need to make sure you get right. You ask a few people to review it. You get back vague comments like "This doesn't really work for me." If you are more specific about what you are asking for, chances are you will get more useful feedback.

Here are a few suggestions to make the exchange more useful for everyone.

To Give Useful Feedback, Ask Yourself: 
  • What should I be looking for? To answer that, you need to ask your colleague what she intends to accomplish with the piece. Who is the audience? How familiar are they with the topic? Is she asking you for feedback about the content or the way her content is expressed--or both?  
  • What do I like about the piece? Start with the parts of the document that you think are strong. Be specific about why you think so.
  • What questions do I still have? Turn to the weaker parts. But be specific about why you don't like them, and suggest ways to improve them. For example, you may not understand one of the arguments. Would an example help? If so, what kind of example?
  • When do I need to respond? If your colleague has asked you to respond by Thursday morning, he does not want your feedback, however insightful, on Friday afternoon.
To Receive Useful Feedback, Ask Your Reviewers:
  • Can you review this by my deadline? Make sure your colleagues can provide feedback within your time frame. Be realistic and allow them enough time to juggle your request with other work.  
  • Will you focus on the conclusion (or some other part)? Be specific about the parts of the piece that you are most unsure of. Or maybe your reviewers have different areas of expertise, and you can take advantage of their individual strengths.  
  • What do you think is my main point? If your reviewer is not clear about the main point or call to action, you probably need to revise and reorder. Then, ask again.  
Finally, don't get defensive when a reviewer gives you less-than-glowing feedback. The point isn't just to get a pat on the back. Consider each comment carefully, particularly if several people have the same reaction.

Alexandria in the Civil War 


I've been doing research on life in Alexandria during the Civil War. Union troops entered the city the day after VirgiCivil War brochure nia seceded and used it as a base of operations throughout the war.


The Lyceum on South Washington Street has a small, but very information-packed exhibit about this time, with lots of photographs, bits of writing, and artifacts. I provided some of the background about Union hospitals during the time, and was honored to be recognized in the Acknowledgments at the entrance to the exhibit.


Museum hours are 10 to 5, Monday through Saturday, and 1 to 5 on Sunday.


Full Circle Communications, LLC / Alexandria, VA / 703.212.0349