I Write How I Speak, You Should Too
Does a world where we write simply and concisely, without jargon exist
We are used to including corporate jargon in the way we communicate. You don’t need complex sentences to express complex ideas. In my experience, the harder the subject, the more informally experts speak. You know what they say, “if you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough”.
Why don’t we write how we speak?
o Insecurity: We try not to use simple language as we want to come across more intelligent.
o Lazy thinking: We cannot think of the simplest way to communicate.
o Deliberate strategy to hide inconvenient truths.
Challenges I’ve faced by not writing how I speak
o The complex sentences and fancy words gave me, (the writer) the false impression that what I am saying is more than it actually is.
o I often fell into the trap of writing corporate jargon to atone for not feeling ‘corporate’ enough. However, the more I wrote using corporate jargon, the less authentic I was and the more confused the reader became.
Rules to improve your ways of communication
1. Know your audience: Build a vivid presentation in your mind of the audience you are trying to communicate to. Picture the audience you are talking to in your mind as people, not stakeholders.
2. We are all human, we have emotions: We are easily bored, distracted, worry, fear for the future, like to laugh, compete with others etc. Just because you’re an expert doesn’t make what you wrote interesting, you must provoke peoples emotions.
3. Clarity is key: You need to know exactly what you are trying to write before writing it.
i) Have you tried to say what you intended to (clearly) or did your writing get in the way?
ii) Active verbs are very important, and don’t throw a lot of passive sentences around (i.e. “a lot is happening”, “the end is near” etc.).
4. Say something interesting: We ask this question a lot in consulting — what is the “so what”? What is the key message you are trying to get across and have you conveyed that message?
5. Be concise: People are time poor. Don’t fall into the trap of trying to say everything all at once. People tend to switch off after 20 words, so you must get the point as early as possible.
6. Use simple language: Long words & sentences puts people off, don’t let the writing distract people from the message. Short sentences, short words, full stops are free (so use them).
7. Draft, then re-write: Write your first draft the way you usually would, then tweak it as you deem fit. Avoid heinously overused words: i.e. innovative, insight, sustainable, dynamic, etc.
Hope you found this useful. I still struggle to implement some of these methods but I’m sure I will get there.