1. Don’t overload your sentences!
If you’re like me, you will need to constantly fight the irresistible urge to pack too much information into a single sentence. According to the Plain English Campaign, the average sentence should ideally be between 15 and 25 words for readability. So instead of cramming too many facts into one extremely long sentence, cut extraneous information and break it into several sentences to improve readability.
2. Get to the point
If a speaker gives you the urge to shout “Get on with it!”, it’s likely they are committing the sin of ‘circumlocution’ – making their point in a rambling, roundabout way rather than getting straight to the heart of the matter. People guilty of circumlocution (also called periphrasis) typically employ unnecessarily long words, often incorrectly or inappropriately, in long, unwieldy sentences. This frustrating trait is sometimes a deliberate ploy to appear intellectual or authoritative but can also occur accidentally when we struggle to find the precise word we want.
3. Avoid spelling slips
One of my pet peeves is spelling mistakes. With the ubiquitous computer spellcheck and even a good old-fashioned dictionary, today there really can be no excuse. However expert you are in your specialist field, basic spelling mistakes will inevitably cast doubt on your professionalism and harm your credibility. If you have a blind spot when it comes to spelling ask a friend or colleague to quickly cast their eyes over your copy before it’s published.
4. Cut out cliches
Are cliches ‘a gift from the gods’ or something to ‘avoid like the plague’? The answer, it may surprise you to know, is “it’s not black and white”. Used sparingly (and appropriately), a cliché can be a shortcut to understanding. But things begin to go wrong when people overuse them, littering entire paragraphs with these stale phrases like… well, confetti.
5. How to make your writing livelier
One very simple way to make your writing more interesting is to use an active, rather than passive, voice. To explain the difference, would you rather do something or have something done to you? Being aware of the voice you are using can make a huge impact on your writing. Active sentences are direct, action-based and seem more interesting whereas passive sentences appear cold and impersonal in comparison.
6. Pull the plug on pompous phrases
When writing is dull or difficult to read, it is sometimes due to the writer using unnecessary words or convoluted phrasing, perhaps in an attempt to sound more educated or businesslike. For instance, stating “The hotel has a fitness suite and swimming amenities” instead of simply saying, “The hotel has a gym and swimming pool”. Similarly, “He works on a part-time basis” can be shortened to “He works part-time”. Instead of “Supplies are subject to limited availability” try “Supplies are limited”.
If you’d like help ensuring your marketing communications are clear, concise and colourful, get in touch and we will be happy to help!