Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Improve your writing in 60 seconds

Tip of the week

Successful writing - whether if be for business, public relations or grantsmanship - must be concise and precise in order for you to reap rewards. Typically, you have about 30 to 60 seconds to engage your reader. If you can't capture the reader's attention immediately, expect your document to hit the "circular file," that is, the trash can.
  • Avoid awkward sentences.
  • Use active verbs.
  • Read your document out loud to make sure it makes sense.
  • Use a second set of eyes to proofread your document.
Does this mean extra work and time? Absolutely! But if you're interested in selling your services, product or concept, you must give writing your best effort. Let me give you a quick example of how you can take a "sick" sentence and turn it into a "healthy" one. Here is a sentence you might find in business correspondence.

Poorly written sentence: "Recognizing your desire for an improved pricing arrangement, the following is a good approximation of the existing contract with modifications to reflect the agreements we made when we held our meeting."

Say what?? Let's try this again.

Sentence that gets results: "We realize you want a better pricing arrangement, so we've modified the contract to reflect what we agreed to when we met."

Remember this: When it comes to effective writing, less is often more.

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2 comments:

Shirazi said...

Last sentence in the post reminded me of this (around 1945):

Maulana Muhammad Ali Johar used to write editorial of his two newspapers – Comrade, Hamdard -- in great detail; lengthy. He used to speak his heart out which ever the subject.

Length of editorials was irksome for some of the readers of those newspapers. In their opinion the impact of the message got diluted by the length.

“Pithiness is powerful,” they thought.

One of the readers one day approached Maulana, expresses his point of view and requested him to write concise.

“I cannot,” answered Maulana Muhammad Ali Johar.
“Why?”

“Because I do not have time to write succinctly,” he added.

You are so helpful here for any writer. Thanks.

Deb S. said...

Shirazi, I think you said it better than I ever could. It does take time and finesse to write succinctly. Thank you for this.