Saying More With Less

Communicating isn’t about what’s said. It’s about what’s heard and understood.

As a writer, coach, speaker, advocate and relationship builder, word choice is paramount. It’s the difference between comprehension or confusion, between action or paralysis.

How each word fits and combines with others serves up your word entree. How will they be perceived? When the passive voice has been used, intent and inspiration are lost. Doesn’t the previous sentence seem indirect? Can’t I combine words in a different way to create a better punch? Lose intent and inspiration when using the passive voice. How’s that? Any better?

I’m not sure when it happened, but I began believing a true fallacy with writing. I thought complex prose symbolized intellect. If I chose grandiose words, I would convey a level of sophistication to the reader. I wanted to sound impressive.

My misguided definition of ‘impressive’ led me astray. Being impressive is about the impression that’s made. What’s the point of writing something if the reader can’t understand it?

I now choose words and construction with more purpose. Each one should serve a purpose. Short sentences aren’t for the inexperience or unintelligent writer. They are a symbol of clear, concise thinking.

If you hope to improve your writing (or how you communicate in general), I recommend Several Short Sentences About Writing, by Verlyn Klinkenborg. It’s as impressive as it is practical. Also, experiment with the Hemingway app. Copy and paste a piece of text. It then highlights complex, hard-to-read, and indirect phrases to alter. The most useful function, I believe, is the reading level grade. It raises the question, “Are your prose understandable?”

Consider words and sentence construction when you write and speak. Your audience will thank you. It may even be the ticket to teaching them, convincing them, or motivating them. There is power in saying more with less.


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