Slowing Down Through Sentence Structure

When I was in seventh grade, my English teacher (Hi, Mr. Grabarek) assigned my class a complex sentence to diagram each week. During these tween years, this was by far the worst assignment of the week. I thought, “I know how to write and I know the difference between a noun and a verb, why do these diagrams matter?”

It wasn’t until recently when I began to think about parts of speech once again, and those tedious sentence diagrams. As a public relations professional, I am constantly writing. Whether it’s an email to a coworker, press release for a client or text message to a friend, I’m always creating content.

We’re currently living in an era where instant gratification feels like success. “What can I do right now to get ahead,” is constantly on our mind; however, this mindset comes at a cost. There is a continuous struggle between instantly getting something accomplished and producing well thought-out deliverables. Blasting out a pitch to an editor will get you and your story nowhere if you’re sending a generic email to cross something off of your “To Do” list.

Realizing that speed is not always the way to go, I began breaking down each message into three parts:

  1. Who am I speaking to?

  2. What am I trying to say?

  3. How am I trying to say it?

Just like the seventh grade sentence diagrams, breaking down a message can procure great benefits in accomplishing a long-term goal.

Although I’m not sure he knew it at the time, Mr. Grabarek was teaching all of his students more than just sentence structure, but also a very powerful lesson by giving us a week to accomplish each diagram. At first glance, it’s easy to see something a certain way, yet after digesting the information, the thing you first saw could turn into a completely different animal.

My advice to you is to slow down and realize the full potential of each message you deliver, no matter how big or small. Your thoughts (and your colleagues) will thank you.