*Editor’s note: This is part of a ‘mini-series’ where Neue’s good friend, Davidson, will share tips on how to improve your writing. From all of us here at Neue, we hope these articles will help improve your business writing skills and help you to succeed in your workplace.
I would like to thank all of you for your comments and feedback on the previous articles. Many of you said that the mini-series was beneficial. In this week’s edition, I want to share two tips on writing more effectively: how to ensure your writing is concise and concrete.
In my last article, we discussed about writing using “plain” English. We also reviewed formal writing and why we shouldn’t use “Queens English”. Today I want to give you more examples of how you can write in plain English by being more concise in your writing. It’s called tightening your writing.
Previously, I mentioned about “The point of words is to convey meaning effectively. If a perfectly average person has trouble understanding you, it means you’re not doing that”. Therefore, if you want your reader to understand you, your writing must be both simple and clear.
While grammar and punctuation are both important when you write, using concise and concrete words are also equally important.
To be concise is to be short, and to the point. You want to use the fewest words possible to convey your ideas clearly. Wordy writing weakens the impact of your message. It can cause confusion among your readers sometimes, who might have to read your composition repeatedly to understand your message.
Consider the following sentences. The words on the right, written with fewer words, has the same meaning as the “wordy sentences” on the left.Tightening Your Writing
Concise / Tightened
At this point in time
In the near future
In the event that
With regards to
I am of the opinion that
I wish to take this opportunity
It is quite probable that
A large number of
At the present time
Most of the time
In the same way
During the time that
Not in a position
In view of the fact that
Due to the fact that
The next time you write, remember these three tips on how to write concisely:
#1. Use familiar words
Incorrect: The preponderance of businessmen we consulted envisage signs of recovery from the current siege of economic stagnation.
Correct: Most businessmen we consulted see the current slow economic situation improving.
#2. Eliminate unnecessary words (wordy phrases)
Incorrect: In the event of a fire, please do not use the elevator.
Correct: If there’s a fire, please do not use the elevator.
#3. Use clear and straightforward language
Incorrect: It is imperative that the consumer be unrestrained in determining his preferences.
Correct: It is important that the buyer be able to choose freely.Clear messages contain words that are familiar and meaningful to the reader. Whenever possible, use short, common, simple words to say what you mean.
Concrete words are terms that identify things and events that can be measured. In business writing, you should help your readers understand better by using concrete words. These words help readers visualize and quantify what you write.
Stay away from using vague words like “better” or “faster”, if possible. How much better? How much faster? These words are too abstract and does not give the reader any indication on how much better or faster something really is. It is too abstract.
For example, “There is a 10% reduction in our budget” is clearer than, “There is a change in our budget,” or “My manager said we should contribute” vs. “My manager urged us to contribute.”
The more abstract or general your language is, the more unclear it will be. The more concrete and specific your language is, the more clear and powerful it will be. When readers can picture a specific scene, your writing becomes more powerful and engaging. Use concrete and specific terms and your writing will be clearer, more interesting, and better remembered.
| Test Yourself |
Now, to see if you have benefitted from the mini-series, you will now be put through a mini test!
“This sounds like an amazing initiative during these indeterminate times considering the current global pandemic. People do have a preference to have access to information at their own suitability. I would like to share a few thoughts with you which I hope can help bring your projects to fruition. Please look into your diary and revert with your soonest availability to pencil in a discussion”.
Stand a chance to win a copy of my book – “8 Vital Skills to Succeed at the Workplace” – by re-writing the passage above so that it is concise and concrete.
E-mail your proposed answers to [email protected]
A lucky winner will be randomly selected and notified through e-mail.
| Connect With Neue |
Next week, I will talk about ‘Inclusive Language’ and what and how it can affect your writing. Drop me a note or comment on this post to let me know if this helps you in any way. I would love to hear all about it. If you have a question or need any advice on writing, I will be here to answer them.
Do you need help for your department or organisation?
Give yourself an advantage during this work from home period by learning how to improve your writing.