By Janet Anthony
Sure, you’ve got great ideas, but what does that matter if you can’t communicate them effectively?
If you write poorly, then your words are a prison, locking in your ideas. If on the other hand, you can write clearly, succinctly and well, then your words will be given wings and you’ll be able to convince your audience of almost anything.
And this isn’t just for the written word, either. To write well means to think clearly. In fact, writing clearly will help your think more clearly. It also makes you smarter and more persuasive. For that reason, it’s vital that you get better at it. Not just for yourself, but for the company that you’re trying to lead.
Of course, some of you are now thinking, ‘well that’s easier said than done. How do I write more clearly?’
You’ll be happy to know it’s actually not as hard as you may think. There are a lot of easy to apply rules that you can use. Here are a few examples.
Use shorter sentences
Of course, what you wrote makes sense to you. You wrote it. You know what you’re trying to say. Others don’t have that advantage, however. They only see the words on your page. And as our attention span is steadily shortening, those words are more and more confusing.
The solution? Write shorter sentences. Anytime that your sentence spans more than a line, you should take notice. If it runs a line and a half, then you should start to worry.
Even longer? Too long, too long by far!
Fortunately, there are plenty of tools out there to help us write sentences that are easier to understand. Check out readability score. They’ll give you a breakdown of how understandable your writing is and score your text based on a whole range of different tests.
Use shorter words (and synonyms)
Of course, if you’re writing short sentences but are using a lot of long words that only some people will understand, that won’t help your writing much. So, watch out for long words. It even a bit jargony? Then give the reader an alternative version. You don’t even have to get rid of the first one. Just include the other words as well. Then you not only make your text easier to read, you’re expanding their vocabulary!
You really do need to pay attention to this, however. There is a lot of evidence that if you use long, complicated words, you’re not making yourself come across as more intelligent but rather the opposite. And that can’t be the point of using long words, can it?
One idea, one paragraph
Okay, this one doesn’t work everywhere. If you’re writing for certain more conservative publications, they expect you to use longer paragraphs. This is because they’re still stuck in a mindset where longer texts are more expensive as they use more paper.
Of course, most of us don’t print anything anymore, but hey, ideas change slowly.
If you’re writing for a slightly more modern publication (like sites on the internet) make sure your paragraphs are shorter and deal with one idea at a time. This will become a shorthand for your readers and will make it far easier for them to understand what you’re writing.
While we’re on the topic of paragraphs, make sure that you use the structure of your paragraph to best effects. What do I mean with that? The bits of a paragraph that people pay the most attention to are those at the beginning and the end. These stick in their minds far better than the bit in the middle. For that reason, put the most important information there.
In effect, every paragraph is a bit like how you were taught to write an essay. You introduce a topic, argue it, in the middle and then offer a sort of conclusion to it.
If you follow this structure, you’ll find it far easier for your readers to follow along.
There are so many great tools to help your writing. So why not use them? No, it isn’t cheating, as you’ll very quickly internalize the lessons that these tools teach you. In a way, many of them are actually shortcuts to making you a better writer.
What are some of the better tools out there?
· Grammarly: Right at the top goes grammarly. This piece of software will point out any grammar or spelling mistakes that you might have. It does this right in your browser as well as in Word. The best part? It’s actually more accurate than word! Yes, that’s right. 3
· Hemingway App: Another great tool for making your writing simpler is the Hemingway App. It will point out difficult sentences and other problems that your writing might have.
· FocusWriter: Sometimes the most important thing isn’t that you have help, but that nothing distracts you from actually getting some writing done. If that’s the case, check out FocusWriting. It will remove all the whistles and buzzers that other writing programs have and let you focus on the task at hand.
Yes, that’s right. I’ve just written an entire writing article without once talking about what words you should use, or mentioning metaphors and storytelling. That’s because of those kinds of strategies, while effective, are also far harder to pick up.
This was an article that was directed at making your writing better, with the least amount of effort. In that way, you don’t have to spend too much time away from being a business leader and can get back to the task at hand.
These ideas are easily applied, aren’t confusing and yet will drastically improve the quality of your writing. So start with them. Only after that start worrying about using your senses, creating elaborate structures where the beginning ties back to the end and everything like that.
About the Author: Janet Anthony is a blogger from Kansas City and content writer at essay writing services who has been writing professionally for five years now. Her motto is “What you do today can improve all your tomorrows”.