In an era of information overload, most of us are trying to hone our ability to cut through the clutter and to remain concise while communicating with our audience. After all, fewer words mean fewer distractions and fewer typos!
No matter how good your writing is, if your audience can’t understand you, you’ll never connect with them. That’s why it’s essential that your writing be error-free, which means it needs to be concise.
To ensure that your language isn’t open to misinterpretation, you must ensure that each sentence follows a pattern that is easy to understand.
For example, you’ve probably heard of the the “80/20 rule” in marketing. The basic concept is that you should not be doing most of the work in the field of study you’re in, but instead, you should focus on having meaningful conversations with the minority of people who could potentially turn into paying customers. If you can do that, the rest will take care of itself.
In the same way, when writing copy for a website, you should not be spending more than 20% of the time writing content about the product or service you’re marketing. Instead, you should strive to make meaningful connections with your audience and ensure that they understand what you’re saying while avoiding any unnecessary distractions.
When you start a new piece of content, ask yourself, “Is this going to be meaningful to my audience? Is this easily digestible information? Can they pull information from this and apply it to their own life?”
With few exceptions, short answers to these questions will result in concise and error-free content that is easily understood by the reader. As a general rule of thumb, you shouldn’t write more than seven sentences before repeating the same information. If you do, you’re forcing the reader to listen to a lot of filler text.
Patterns And Roles
As we mentioned above, each sentence you write should follow a pattern that is easy to understand. One big problem that many writers experience is that they think in words and phrases that are natural to them, but because they’re not used to writing in a particular style, they make spelling errors and use awkward language. To prevent yourself from falling into this trap, you need to work on identifying the patterns that exist in the language you’re most comfortable with.
For example, if you’re a doctor who often writes about medication and treatments for illnesses, you might notice that when you talk about a medication, you’ll use the word “drug” or “medication” frequently. Or, if you’re a scientist who often writes about experiments and findings, you might notice that when you talk about experimenting, you’ll use the word “experiment” or “test” frequently.
When you identify these patterns, you’ll see that you’re using language that is easy to understand and that you’re avoiding the use of words and phrases that could potentially confuse your audience. With practice, you’ll be able to identify the patterns that exist in your own language and ensure that you always use words that have established meanings. Even if you do make a mistake, your audience will still be able to understand you because the pattern is so easy to follow.
Another thing that you need to be careful of is overusing certain words, especially technical words that have specific meanings and are not general words. For example, if you’re writing about an experiment that tested the effects that caffeine had on mice, you might use the word “caffeine” or “mice” frequently, but if you want to be able to understand what you’re writing, you shouldn’t. Because there are already established words that mean what you want to say, you should avoid using words that have specific meanings in everyday speech.
Also, when you’re quoting someone, you need to make sure that you’re using the correct wording. If you write, “The famous psychologist _____ said,” you’re going to confuse your audience if you don’t put the words in quotes. Otherwise, they might simply think that you’re making it up because you have no idea what the correct quotation is.
If you’re still in school and are frequently required to write papers, you might notice that your teachers tend to emphasize the importance of conciseness. After all, if you want to get a good score, you need to make sure that your essays are as short as possible. And, most importantly, you need to make sure that they’re error-free. Your teachers are trying to help you build your vocabulary and learn to write effectively. So, when you get a chance, take a look at how you can improve your language skills and start writing easier sentences.