Four Tips to Improve Your Writing Skill Set
Often, companies are only as good as their writing – whether in their email habits, presentations, speeches, product descriptions, advertising campaigns, media relationships, etc. Many claim to practice, support and value it, but struggle to actually communicate clearly and concisely.
For organizations to be successful, they should consider these four tips to help transform employees’ writing and, ultimately, communications skills – no matter what role or department.
1. Avoid Using Grammar Expletives
“What are grammar expletives?” you may ask. Well, let me tell you – they are literary constructions that begin with the words it, here or there followed by a form of the verb to be. Such as it is, it was, it won’t, it takes, here is, there is, there will be.
The issue is that these terms refer to nouns later in the sentence or never at all, weakening your writing by shifting the emphasis away from the true subjects of the sentence. In addition, they often require support words such as who, that and when which also dilute your writing.
Take a few of these examples:
- There are people across the world who use technology to connect instantly.
>> Technology allows people across the world to connect instantly.
- It is key to focus on target audiences when pitching media contacts.
>> Target audiences should be a key focus for media relations.
2. Avoid Weak Verbs, Use Action Verbs Instead
Certain uses of to be in various forms weaken the words that follow. The solution is quite simple – replace these non-compelling words with powerful alternatives.
- Amelia is updating the project tracker every Monday morning.
>> Amelia updates the project tracker every Monday morning.
- Consumers are in love with and excited about the product launch.
>> Consumers expressed positive sentiment and excitement about the product launch.
Other verbs can also lack strength such as:
- Give out >> Offer
- Find out >> Discover
- Make it clearer >> Clarify
- I can’t make it. >> I can’t attend.
- He went to Canada. >> He traveled to Canada.
- Think of a social media plan. >> Devise a social media plan.
3. Avoid Weak Adjectives
Weak adjectives are just as bad for your writing as weak verbs. Use stronger and clearer adjectives when possible for describing nouns and pronouns.
- Studies have found pretty people tend to be paid more throughout their professional career.
>> Studies have found attractive people tend to receive higher salaries throughout their professional career.
- Targeted advertising provides the company with potential sales leads.
>> Targeted advertising provides the company with promising sales leads.
In addition, avoid really and very – there is almost always another descriptor that can be used instead.
- Really bad >> Terrible
- Really powerful >> Exceedingly powerful
- Very beautiful >> Gorgeous
- Very unlikely >> Highly unlikely
Even worse than using weak adjectives is using weak adjectives to tell what something isn’t as opposed to saying what something is.
- It’s not that good. >> It’s terrible.
- It’s not clear. >> It’s vague.
- Marketing is not always easy. >> Marketing is sometimes difficult.
4. Trim Excess Words and Phrases
People’s attention spans are limited, thus flabby writing should be cut. Plus, it makes your actual statements and communication that much stronger.
- Editing is absolutely essential.
>> Editing is essential.
- You’re going to have to send the logos to a different email.
>> Please send the logos to a different email.
- Due to the fact that our researchers are unavailable, we can’t comment on this issue.
>> Our researchers are unavailable, therefore we are not able to comment on this issue.
Being clear about what you say, and being cognizant about how you say it are two of the most important aspects to changing the behavior of those you’re communicating to or targeting. By improving the way you write, you can produce a stronger and more impactful response from brand fans, customers and employees alike.