Richard H. Ryder, 2018
The following suggestions will help a Lodge Master improve his From the East messages. The ideal is to use each of these in your messages. However, sometimes, maybe due to the topic or space limitations, you must cherry-pick a subset. You can be the judge. Also, anyone can use the following suggestions to begin improving their writing skills, regardless of the topic.
- Choose a topic that helps you explain a part of your goals for the lodge (ex. harmony, retaining members)
- Determine the point or points you would like to make
- Determine the logical order in which you can best make your point or deliver a sequence of points
- Frame your message in three stages
- THE INTRODUCTION: after some icebreaker comments recognizing someone’s contribution or something significant event in or outside the lodge, deliver your message. If space allows your next paragraph might be an introduction to your message, where you briefly tell the reader why you are writing about the topic
- THE BODY: the body of the message provides the details, where you elaborate on your points. If you have several points, and if space allows, you may want to dedicate one paragraph to each point, writing them in an order that culminates in a concluding thought or charge to action by the brethren
- THE SUMMARY: if space allows and if appropriate, use the last paragraph to summarize your main points, using keywords or thoughts. Be sure to keep it concise. This is a way to let the reader end with your main takeaways.
- Keep your sentences as short as possible, but not so short that your message reads like a children’s book. Proper use of commas, colons, semicolons, and dashes help break up thoughts or effectively combine related thoughts. Lists also help to break up thoughts in a sequence that helps the reader better understand your message.
- Keep one main thought per paragraph
- In each paragraph, get to the point and keep to the point. If what you want to say does not significantly add to your message, consider not using it.
- Use one word instead of two. For example: use “greener” instead of “more green”
- Use an active versus passive voice. For example: use ‘will’ instead of “going to”; say “The Secretary read the minutes of the meeting” versus “The minutes of the meeting were read by the Secretary”
- Write your message in three steps:
- First, write freely, but be conscience of the flow; this gets your thoughts on paper, unrestricted by sentence structure, paragraph structure, grammar, etc.
- Secondly, go back to the beginning and modify your message by streamlining sentences and paragraphs, selecting better or fewer words, improving spelling and grammar, resequencing paragraphs, etc. Start to be aware of how your message will be read so that the reader is not wondering what you are trying to say. Use an online tool to check spelling, syntax, and grammar. But remember, these tools are not foolproof, so always proofread your message or ask someone else to do that for you.
- Thirdly, read your message one last time from top to bottom as if you were the reader, making minor changes to perfect your work. You can also add your message to an online tool that reads your message aloud, thus hearing your message as it might be read by your audience