Your writing can generate leads, open doors and inspire trust in your brand. Or it can make you look like you showed up to work in a dirty suit and forgot to brush your teeth. Sloppy copy wastes everyone’s time and money.
Business writers often suffer under the misconception that good writing is formal, that credibility comes from the longest words in the book, and that clarity is using bold to get the point across. Actually, pompous writing acts as barrier between you and your reader – just the opposite of what you want to achieve. The good news is that it’s easy to learn to write simple, clear and persuasive text.
As an editor, I use a few quick fixes to tear out the weeds and make space for clarity. Try these techniques and you’ll boost your readability:
- Write like you speak. Use simple, common language. And use real words! Run away from nouns pretending to be verbs such as incentivize or verbs and gerunds masquerading as nouns such as learnings.
- Remove repetitive words and use a thesaurus.
- Stay away from adverbs. Cross out words ending with “ly” and use more descriptive verbs (e.g. “jogged across the street” vs. “walked quickly across the street”).
- Save your readers’ time by avoiding unnecessary ceremony. Drop the “please do not hesitate to contact us if you happen to have any questions” and use “if you have questions, please contact us”.
- Use contractions. Really. Unless y
ou areyou’re composing a legal contract or a management letter, write “we’re” not “we are”, etc..