A trap that many people fall into when writing is trying to sound too clever.
In order to try and impress clients and colleagues, they will use unnecessary technical and complicated language full of jargon and buzzwords.
When really they should be trying to get their message across as simply and in as few words as possible.
If your intended audience doesn’t understand what you are saying they will be lost and turn off immediately.
In this time-pressured world everyone is busy, so the quicker you can get to the point in clear and understandable terms, the better.
So how can you avoid the jargon and cut straight to the chase?
1) Use plain English
It may sound obvious, but the easier you make your words and sentences to understand, the more chance you have of the reader paying attention and following your narrative.
For example, here’s some typical business-speak or waffle that I hear regularly: “Genuinely integrated, cross-product teams are enabled to deliver holistic, customer-centric solutions while our automated execution maintains a seamless customer experience.”
What does that even mean?
Better instead to say something like:
“Our knowledgeable staff will work with you to create a financial plan that will help your company to grow and prosper.”
2) Add some colourful examples
If you want to bring your text to life, try adding some metaphors or analogies to illustrate your point.
People love to read about other people, so wherever possible use human examples to enrich your prose.
3) Be creative
Rather than using old hackneyed phrases, come up with something original and interesting that will make people sit up and take notice.
But avoid trying to be over-elaborate and smart as it will soon lose its meaning.
4) Keep to length
Less is always more.
Write in the shortest, clearest way possible, using plenty of sub-headings and bullet points.
Avoid unnecessary verbs and adjectives, and fancy words that have no obvious meaning and don’t add anything to the piece.
5) Always keep the subject matter in mind
Remember that the cleverest writers are those that can convey the most complex ideas in the simplest way that everyone can understand.
As with every strong story, start with the most interesting angle and develop your argument in a logical manner, clearly summing up your findings or thoughts at the end.
Here are my top five offenders for bad English words:
Every person or company describes themselves as innovative nowadays, so make yourself stand out from the crowd and use a more original turn of phrase
Again, the word is overused most of the time – all you are being offered is nothing more than an educated opinion
Trainers are often the worst offenders here. For example, when you read the words “Enabling you to leverage your communication skills”, it’s really code for “Helping you to write or speak clearly”. Why not just say that then?
Like innovation, it’s so ubiquitous, its meaning is hollow. Save the environment by not using such wasteful words
Writers create words, just as producers and directors make films. Content is a non-descript word that people think sounds cool
Get in touch
- Stuck for words? Or need to find a better way to get your message across clearly? Give me a call on +44 (0)7949 590213 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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