Unfortunately, good writing – writing that is easy to read – is not all that common. Many people who communicate very well in person completely fail in written communication. The most vivacious, interesting people seem to change when they sit down to write; they become more formal, stiff and aloof. It’s as if they think the process of writing is a very serious business, one in which the writer must throw away his personality.
Nothing could be further from the truth, and here are three ways to make your writing as interesting as your in-person communication.
- Be Conversational. Writing and speaking should not be all that different, and writing at its best is a conversation with the reader. Use conversational language: “help” instead of “provide assistance,” “do our best” instead of “maximize efforts,” and “show” instead of “exemplify.” Read your work aloud to hear how it “sounds” to the reader.
- Use Active Voice. There is nothing more deadening to the written word than excessive use of the passive voice: “Mistakes were made” or “The job was completed,” instead of “I made mistakes” or “We completed the job.” Whether it’s a way to avoid responsibility or sound humble doesn’t matter. When it comes to communicating, use of the passive voice can be as lively as watching grass grow.
- Eliminate Jargon. Every profession has jargon, and jargon often comes in the form of acronyms. When readers unfamiliar with an acronym see it, you’ve immediately lost their attention as they spend time trying to decipher its meaning. Don’t assume your reader understands the shorthand you use with peers. Unless it’s a commonly understood acronym, spell it out.
Try these three tips when you write – and let your personality shine through.
Posted by Margot Dimond