Ghost-Writing for Senior Executives

Goals

To understand the best components for establishing guidelines for ghost-writing for a senior-level executive.

Early Findings

  • Professional CEO ghost-writer Blythe Campbell gives four tips for effective executive ghost-writing: build a strong relationship in order to best capture their voice, research & ask questions, learn their communication style, and revise without altering voice.
  • Another advice article has similar sentiments, though gets more technical. Its tips include know your audience, deliver clear messages, convey clear tone & takeaways, use interesting/personal examples, don't forget the light approach and end with a strong conclusion.
  • Professional writer Josh Fechter gives this advice, "it’s important to have had what the author and philosopher Nassim Taleb calls “Skin in the Game.” The result is what we call “empathy,” the ability to understand and feel others’ emotions." That fits into some advice above about using engaging examples, using a light approach when appropriate and know one's audience when writing.
  • Mr. Fechter goes on to say most senior executives have great anecdotes to pull from. They all have "war stories", as he calls them, and most also have at least one example of a failed business to work into their narrative.
  • It is important for the writer(s) to understand the level of involvement the executive wants to have. Some will only sign-off after a quick skim, whereas others have significant input during the editing process.
  • Here is an article containing tips when writing for other C-suite executives. Most importantly is the need for summarizing, brevity, writing so information can be passed on verbatim, use descriptive headings, clearly pointing out actions needed and using plain English and watch abbreviations.
  • These two articles about effective copywriting also emphasize not using jargon/abbreviations, writing too long-winded introductions, forgetting the human audience and using negative language.

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