In a previous post, “How to be Clear and Concise“, I outlined a few ways to make text shorter, punchier and more engaging. Here are a few more.
- Get to know your audience. Read their magazines and blogs. Learn to “speak their language” and write in the style they’re accustomed to.
- Long or exotic words are more likely to annoy than impress your readers. So don’t try to show off your vocabulary. Use friendly, everyday, conversational language.
- Keep things positive. Rather than using scare tactics, inspire readers by highlighting the great things your product will do for them.
- Tell a story. Build a rapport, demonstrate to your readers that you’re “just like them”. Show empathy, feel their pain.
- Mercilessly cut unnecessary
- Keep sentences short. Aim for an average of 12 – 18 words per sentence.
- If all your sentences are about the same length, your writing will sound monotonous. So vary the length of your sentences. Like this. Note how it adds a captivating rhythm and cadence.
- Keep paragraphs to a single thought, and limit them to 4 or 5 sentences. Don’t be afraid to use very short — even one-sentence — paragraphs on occasion.
- Use subheads to break up your text and keep readers oriented.
- Use bullet points. They promote clarity by:
- Making your text scannable
- Presenting information in easily-digestible chunks
One final hint: Early on, ask a simple question your readers will answer “yes” to. Once you’ve got them agreeing with you, they’ll be much more likely to keep reading… and to agree with you later!