As a writer, it will probably be my life-long struggle to pare down my words and get to the points that really matter. Even in fiction, there’s a line you shouldn’t cross when it comes to the overuse of details. It’s more obvious in non-fiction, especially in journalism-type writings. But no matter the communication avenue, brevity plays a key role in successfully conveying a message.
“Good things, when short,
are twice as good.” —Gracián
As an editor, a key component of my services to my clients includes helping them to develop their projects while getting rid of the chaff. We’re not in high school anymore, so we shouldn’t write crap. If we do, our credibility is apt to go down the toilet. With so much quality content just a Google search away, it is crucial to be clear and concise with our words.
- Here are 5 simple rules to follow when constructing a communication piece:
- Write it ALL (similar to “free writing,” write with abandon, and get all your thoughts out of your brain).
- Re-read it while doing a simultaneous edit, at least 3xs (this is where you begin to make sense of everything and weed out the garbage).
- Read it aloud (reading to yourself is one thing; hearing it spoken is a whole different bear).
- Ask someone to look over it (if it’s an important piece, another eye is always good ... if that’s not an option for you, however, just go over it one more time by yourself; you’ll be surprised to find that it still needs tweaking).
- Send it, publish it, deliver it (release your baby into the world!).
Sometimes, it’s necessary to write something not so brief. However, most of us are guilty of adding in too much fluff. Maybe it’s a culture thing, maybe it’s how we’ve been taught. Either way, in my personal and professional experience, the clearer our communication is, the more beneficial it is.
Also, a well-expressed piece of communication is just damn good.
Try the above “rules” when you construct your next e-mail, blog post or LinkedIn article. You don’t have to be a professional writer; you simply need to take a few extra minutes to do some rewriting and self-editing. The more you practice, the more effective you’ll be with writing and communicating. You can become a better communicator if you put some effort into it.
“Omit needless words. Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts.” —William Strunk, Jr.
Do YOU have tips to share about the importance of brevity? Leave a comment!