Winning Feedback: Four Examples

Written by Ross Guberman on June 19, 2020

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Good feedback does more than just boost morale. It can make you a magnet for better work product.

To inspire change, recast your feedback as something the writer could do on a computer the next time, not something you want a draft to be.

That means getting beyond squishy mantras and circular adjectives. What does “Write for the reader!” look like when you close your eyes and imagine it on a computer screen? Not much. The same for other popular slogans like “Be concise!” and “Organize, organize, organize!” Why do these well-intended lines rarely work? Because the original writer already has those goals but needs a concrete way to achieve them. After all, there’s a reason pole-vaulting coaches do more than just bellow “Jump Higher!” all day long.

Let’s turn some popular writing mantras into sample action items.

Doing Is Being

No: “You need to be more concise.”

  • Yes: “Cut 20% of the words from this draft.”

No: “You need to be more accurate.”

  • Yes: “Verify all cross-referenced provisions and triple-check all party names and currencies.”

No: “You need to be more organized and persuasive.”

  • Yes: “Start your motion with three reasons the judge should do what you want, and then turn those reasons into argument headings.”

No: “You need to be clearer when you write.”

  • Yes: “Read your document aloud. When you falter or run out of breath, imagine how you’d make the same point in a casual conversation and then write those words down.”

To bolster your feedback even more, give BriefCatch a try!

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Ross Guberman

Ross Guberman

Ross Guberman is the president of Legal Writing Pro LLC and the founder of BriefCatch LLC. From Alaska and Hawaii to Paris and Hong Kong, Ross has conducted thousands of workshops on three continents for prominent law firms, judges, agencies, corporations, and associations. His workshops are among the highest rated in the world of professional legal education.

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