The mood in the country is gay Each year on the 12th of May; The whiskey is running For linguists so cunning On this, National Lim’rick Day.
I like to look at a picture of the person I’m writing to before I start writing. Before starting this post, I looked at a colleague’s online profile portrait. Call him Phil. Phil’s a great guy with a catalog of jokes that rivals the card catalog at the New York City Public Library. Phil’s problem: at work he writes stilted, complex letters full of huge words. Plus, he adds long strings of modifiers before every verb and noun. His so-called business writing misses his human targets altogether. So I’m writing this post to let him know, once and for all: Businesses can’t read. Got that? If you’re writing to a business, you’re not #winning. People read; buildings stand. Whether you’re writing a blog post, a consultant’s report, or an email explaining your product’s benefits, your audience is a human being. There’s no such thing as business writing. What did you say? Some companies use scanners
I like to say “there’s no such thing as business writing.” Okay, there is. It’s called “sucks.” From where I sit, “business writing” refers to strings of meaningless modifiers interrupted periodically by bland verbs and flabby nouns. Thankfully, we readers have hope. And our hope comes from science, not from the English Department. Here’s what I mean. Dan Zarrella, the social media scientist, has determined that nouns and verbs work, adjectives and adverbs choke. Here’s the sharebility of various kinds of words: Active verbs zoom around Facebook while adverbs die on the author’s wall. That’s because modifiers usually weaken a sentence. They encourage writers to use imprecise nouns and dull verbs. For example: Dull: He walked quickly through the room. Not Dull: The tomcat tore through the kitchen. Both sentences describe the same event and the same actor. The latter conveys movement and excitement, while the former induces sleep. Here’s an exercise. Take some piece
It’s easy to get to the point in an email: 1. Decide what’s important. 2. Write that. 3. Decide whether any background information would help. For example, would adding “Mary called in sick,” explain your email question, “Should I cover the front desk?” 4. If background’s necessary, add it. 5. Click Send. Technorati Tags: writing,email,concision