Get to the Point

March 17, 2016

As a veteran teacher of composition at the secondary level, my work involves training students to employ "economy of language." The same lesson could benefit professionals. The essential message: Streamline language. Get to the point. 

 

This has real value. Imagine if company correspondence  -- every email,  report, and newsletter -- were shortened by a third without losing any essential content. Consider the impact on efficiency were that standard applied across the board -- if your company were to adopt a "cultural preference for brevity." 

 

Can this backfire? Certainly. Too much time spent parsing language could be counterproductive. And sometimes too fine a filter can lead to miscommunication. But this is rare. Generally, succinct writing is clear writing. And clear writing yields a clear message. 

 

Here's an example:

 

Original:
It has become clear to those of us on the finance committee that taking a hard look at certain aspects of the discretionary expense accounts for mid-level executives at SuperCorp could potentially lead to significant cost savings for the company. (Roughly 40 words.)
 
Revised:
The finance committee recommends re-evaluation of mid-level executive discretionary expense accounts to reduce costs. (Under 15 words.)

 

I filtered adverbs and adjectives, which usually aren't needed. Some revision involves taking advantage of "contextually obvious" knowledge: Assuming this is an internal company memo, there's no need to mention the name of the company, is there? We could go further. I can think of ways to get this message below ten words.

 

Not sure if this applies to you? Take a look at correspondence from a regular work week. Dig out an email or report. Filter unnecessary words. You can probably shorten it by a third. 

 

It's always good to "say what you mean and mean what you say." And sometimes, (too many) words get in the way. 

 

Want to help adopt a "culture of clarity" in your company? Check out www.pjcservicesllc.com to find out if I can assist you or your organization with a specific document or even a workshop.

 

This post was originally published on LinkedIn, here. 

Please reload

Other Posts

June 28, 2019

April 10, 2019

December 13, 2018

November 27, 2018

October 13, 2018

October 8, 2018

September 27, 2018

September 26, 2018

September 21, 2018

September 19, 2018

February 17, 2018

July 23, 2017

April 26, 2017

Please reload