One of the keys to writing less and saying more can be summed up in one word: specificity. Be specific.
There is too much communication at every level today, and on every subject. How can you stand out, help your reader “get it” quickly, and make every word count? Be specific. Become aware of the words and phrases that are vague, general, and mean nothing. Words and phrases that are used so often, that are so trite your reader reads right past them – or not at all. For example:
What do you mean by
• Highest quality? Who says so? How can you prove it? Everyone says they are, so this phrase gives you no advantage; at best you only become a part of the self-proclaimed “highest quality” group. Where is your competitive edge? Support your claim. Give your reader a reason to believe you.
• Strict quality control? What steps do you take? What is your process? Your certification? What does that mean in terms of your reader?
• Lowest prices? Compared to what? How do you know? How is the quality affected? How will lower prices today affect productivity in the months and years ahead? What kind of an investment will this be?
• Best (name) on the market today? Back it up. Prove it. Where are the numbers, the endorsements, the case histories, the detail? And what do you mean by “best”?
Here are some more. You’ve got the idea, so play with these phrases. Apply them to your company, to your service, to a specific product.
• Full service:
• Centrally located:
• Completely equipped:
Vague words and phrases surround us, cluttering our writing, and losing valuable opportunities daily to prove who we are, what we do, and how well we do it in every email, sales piece, or conversation.
Begin by thinking like your reader might think. First priority: benefits to your reader. What will he or she gain, achieve, become? What will he or she avoid, prevent, save? Be specific.
Look for those vague, mean-nothing words and phrases in your own writing.
Think about what you would like your reader to tell his or her purchasing agent, colleague, or friend if asked about you, or about what you have to offer; what you would like him or her to believe (and remember) about you. Think about the level of detail you need for this writing situation. Then give your reader a specific reason to believe you.
See you next week!
To receive your Business Writing Trends automatically every week, please subscribe to our newsletter.
We’ll be happy to come to your organization. To discuss a workshop for your people at your location, or a shorter presentation for an upcoming meeting, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call at 503/292-9681.