Simplifying your writing can help you get your message across in less time and with less chance for ambiguity.
Have you ever had the experience of slogging through a memo that's a marshland of excess verbiage and hackneyed phrases?
We're all guilty of overwriting at times (and I'm on shaky ground here myself) but if we heed the advice I came upon recently in The Elements of Business Writing by Gary Blake and Robert Bly, we can make our writing clear, memorable and easy for readers to grasp.
Here are a few suggestions.
1. Avoid wordiness.
Use only the words needed to convey your message. Trade every flabby at this point in time for now, every in the near future for soon. Saving words saves time—the time you want your readers to devote to your content.
2. Avoid redundancy.
Have you ever really thought about expressions such as free gift, plan ahead, or basic essentials? Notice anything similar about them?
Well, in each phrase there are two words doing the work of one. It makes me think of road crews, in which one guy is drilling concrete while everyone else is standing around to watch.
Make sure your words have earned the right to occupy a place in your sentences. Choose strong verb and nouns that take on the brunt of carrying your meaning.
3. Choose small words over big words.
Using large, impressive-sounding words might help with the SATs, as Blake and Bly point out, but when was the last time you saw—or cared to see—a word like brobdingnagian in a sentence.
Better to write simply to express an idea than to try to impress someone with big words. When you can, use help for assist and complete or finish for finalize.
4. Use modern language instead of antiquated language.
Avoid using phrases like enclosed please find and pursuant to our conversation. Stilted language makes us sound stodgy and old fashioned; it also put us at a distance from readers who prefer an engaging, conversational style.
So, instead of writing kindly respond to the attached at your earliest convenience, just write please respond soon.
5. Use original language instead of clichés.
Writers seize on clichés because they are familiar and handy—like reaching for packaged junk food instead of preparing a sustaining meal.
Clichés deprive your writing of freshness and vigor. Whenever you can, duck every brainstorm, rebel against the powers that be, turn away from the whole nine yards.
6. Avoid jargon.
Like big words, jargon is intended to impress rather than to express. Why interface when we can talk?
Good, concise writing can accomplish two things: it can give your writing force and make a lasting impression on your reader.
>> Click here to return to Brand Incites blog page