What does your writing say about your personal brand or that of your company?

For all the words you speak during the average day, my guess is that you write with far less confidence—and often less fluently. Yet your business and your brand depend on what your writing can deliver: attention-grabbing emails to clients and prospects; marketing collateral such as brochures, flyers, and website copy. And chances are you blog, tweet, post to Facebook, and chime in on LinkedIn discussions. Occasionally, you may even write an article, a white paper, or a speech.

In a nutshell, your writing reflects the essence of your personal presence as much as your face-to-face interactions today. No, I take that back. Your personal presence as reflected through your writing has become more powerful than face to face because the audience reach has become wider than ever before.

At my company, 78 percent of our clients come to us through our writing efforts. Virtually all the remaining business is by referral. We live by our writing. Can you?

Here are some tips for

writing well and quickly.

1) Think before you write—not as you write.

Writing as you think generally means you'll do two or more drafts—or worse, you'll hit Send and forward a first, often incomplete jumble of ideas and information. Think. Then write.

2) Make your bottom line your opening line.

Avoid the once-upon-a-time structure of going through the details and background before getting to the point.

3) Make the call to action clear and specific.

Tell readers exactly what you want them to do or what you yourself expect to do next based on the message you're sending.

4) Put the "doers" in your writing.

Avoid passive verbs like this: "The plan should be reviewed before implementation." Who is going to review it? Without the doer, key information is missing. Another example you'll find in cryptic emails and texting: "Gave her further information on the arrangements discussed" when your readers may be confused about who did the "giving and discussing."

5) Avoid cliché closings.

"If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to call" at the end of an email or letter sounds like the second-grader's "See you later, alligator." Friendly, but oh, so worn out. Tailor your closing to fit the communication. Make it personal. After all, that's the purpose of networking—to get to know people individually.

Writing skills have never been more visible—nor more important—than they are in today's marketplace. If you decide yours are too bland to set you apart, add spice to generate a little sizzle.

As CEO of Booher Consultants, DIANNA BOOHER works with organizations to increase their productivity and effectiveness through better communication: oral, written, interpersonal, and cross-functional. Dianna is a prolific author of 45 books, including her latest: Creating Personal Presence: Look, Talk, Think, and Act Like a Leader, reviewed on p. 8 of this issue.