Get to the Point: Writing Succinctly
“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. This requires not that the writer make all his sentences short, or that he avoid all detail and treat his subjects only in outline, but that every word tell.”
— William Strunk Jr. in The Elements of Style
Whether you’re shooting an email to your boss or drafting a campaign speech, succinct writing is essential to all aspects of communications. The goal of writing concisely is to use words that communicate your message as efficiently as possible – a difficult feat for even experienced writers.
Trim down your writing with these three tips:
1. Use powerful, specific words. Writers often use unnecessary words to express ideas that could be communicated more efficiently with fewer words. Replace ambiguous language with more powerful, specific words.
Wordy: The president discussed many of the benefits of integrating social media into the public relations strategy in his quarterly report.
Succinct: The president lauded the PR team’s social media efforts in his quarterly report.
By replacing vague words with stronger language, the new sentence is able to express the same idea with fewer words.
2. Avoid jargon. If the bulk of your audience is unfamiliar with industry terminology, avoid using it in your writing. Industry jargon is often wordy and difficult to understand.
Jargon-filled: The computer software program, which is the result of seven grueling years of study involving a highly advanced team of twenty researchers and nearly $6 million worth of Argon Software’s assets, combines all auxiliary and subsidiary data into a single, easy-to-use social media management interface.
Succinct: The software combines all data into a user-friendly social media management screen. It is the result of a seven year, $6 million investment involving a team of twenty.
The new sentences cut out unnecessary jargon, making it easier to understand.
3. Don’t be redundant. Avoid saying the same thing twice. An easy way to tighten up your writing is to rid your sentences of redundant phrases.
Redundant: Many public relations professionals in the PR industry are excellent speakers.
Succinct: Many public relations professionals are excellent speakers.
It’s obvious which industry public relations professionals are in, so the new sentence removes “in the PR industry.” Closely inspect your writing to remove these easily-overlooked redundancies.
Writing concisely is tough, but editing and looking for these common errors strengthens your writing and clarifies your messages. By refining your word choice and sentence structure, you will make your writing as succinct as possible.