Writing effectively in a professional setting is a key skill to learn early–and it requires discipline. If you want to make an impression, remember that less is more. Yes, that’s right, writing and makeup have something in common: there’s beauty in less. Effective writing minimizes emotions, omits superfluous words, and is succinct.
Here are my top three tips for communicating effectively:
1. Eliminate extreme emotions and be objective.
Emotions and hyperbole can bury the point you want to make. The reader will remember how the communication was written and not the content. Instead of saying, “It is a sad state of affairs that I must change doctors due to logistical billing issues” (too melodramatic) you’ll be better served if you state, “I have decided to change doctors due to continued billing errors.”
2. Delete most adjectives and modifiers.
Instead of writing, “This is really important,” consider saying, “This is important.” The word “really” is redundant, and redundancy dilutes the impact of content. Saying that something is really important doesn’t make it that much more important that the reader will be more likely to react.
Examples of other modifiers include: “basically,” “definitely,” “actually,” and “generally.” Redundant pairs of words include: “various differences,” “important essentials,” “future plans,” “end result,” and “final outcome.”
3. Be brief.
Professionals have a lot on their plate. They can receive hundreds of e-mails daily and have to read pages upon pages of reports. You’re doing professionals a favor when you use fewer words. Also, try to use bullets when communicating multiple ideas. Information that’s organized and separated makes it easier for the reader to digest, and it’s more likely the reader will respond to your questions and/or act on your requests.
Next time you sit down to write an e-mail or letter, remember to be objective, leave out unnecessary adjectives, and be concise. Your reader will thank you and, more importantly, do what you want. It’s a beautiful thing.