Ditch the dull corporate words with these simple tweaks
Wish you could write impactful emails / job ads / articles / reports that your employees / boss / peers connect with, respond to, and enjoy? Well, stop writing that robotic, formal crap people don't understand.
Corporate writing has become a hideous beast of meaningless terms, verbose sentences, and clichés that fail to captivate intended audiences. Which means;
… your messages don’t stick
… calls-to-action are disregarded
… opportunities are missed.
Here’s how you can write better business words that your human audience can understand (and enjoy reading!).
Tweak 1 – Write for your audience
Most corporates fluff this bit up, because they write for themselves. They communicate their key messages – pushing out information at people, but not inviting them into the conversation.
Here are some ways you can write for your audience;
Write in basic English (KISS)
Keep it simple, stupid.
Great content is readable – it doesn’t require a PHD to understand what you’re bangin’ on about. Most people read at 10th grade level, so aim for this at most.
This doesn’t ‘dumb down’ writing. This ensures your message will be received as intended = SMART.
Make it conversational
When you’re writing for online, it must be conversational; that is, writing like you talk. I write as I speak, so I use alotta colloquialisms and slang in my writin’ (OK – that’s a bit southern, but to prove a point).
Try making use of standard contractions at every opportunity. They’re, it’s, you’ve, we’d. If you’re a bit of a word larrikin, like me, you could use bold contractions like, should’ve, must’ve, what’re.
The best strategy you can use here, is to record yourself explaining information out loud to your mate using a voice-to-text app, and then edit out the umms and colloquial fluff once you’re done. It will read clearer than anything you try writing yourself, trust me.
Write in your audience’s language
This one’s more challenging, because you need to get in the head of your readers.
Who are they (in demographic detail)?
What are their interests?
Where do they hang out online?
How do they talk?
What do they need?
Writing to connect with a Gen Y audience is different to writing for a Boomer. Writing for a ‘mumpreneur’ is different to writing for a ‘Gary Vee’. Know who you're writing for so you write in an appealing language.
Tweak 2 – Ditch the weak words
Filler words and adverbs kill your credibility and dilute your message.
Unnecessarily using filler words and adverbs is highly effective at killing your credibility and is very good at diluting your message.
Ugh. Ugh. Ugh.
This kind of writing and speech reminds me of Donald Trump’s vocabulary. ‘Nuff said.
If you ever catch yourself using ‘very’ or other adverbs (words ending with -ly) – try your hardest to rephrase the sentence to write using an active voice and vivid words.
For example, ‘talked quietly’ reads better as ‘whispered’; ‘very bright’ is better as ‘intelligent’; ‘very powerful’ is best as ‘compelling’.
Tweak 3 – Shorten your sentences
One of the most powerful lessons from my jolly ol’ days in journalism school is – the 25-word-sentence; News articles shouldn’t exceed 25 words because it confuses readers. Shorter sentences help you keep your message simple.
That’s not to say every sentence is 25 words, though!
A true word nerd can mix it up with super short 1-3-word sentences, short to mid, and long to keep the writing exciting. Check out the below quote from Gary Provost to get an idea of a magical word flow.
Write like a human, for humans
Intelligent writing isn’t rocket science. It’s not about trying to be technical or to sound professional. Intelligent writing is writing simply, to connect your message with an audience; to delight, inspire, or motivate a desired response.
The best part is – you don’t ‘have to be a writer’ to write simply. So, go forth my friends – break free of your corporate shackles and write like a human, for humans.
Tell me in the comments -
What do you struggle with most when writing for business?