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Want to Write Better: Get Out the Verbal Pruning Shears

Hands of a professional gardener man with gloves and garden shears cutting a green hedge in the garden

Imagine you had to pay $100 for every word, whether in email or conversation. Would it change the way you write and speak? Odds are we’d be much briefer. So much of our online and spoken discourse is filled with unnecessary words. Like overgrown landscaping, our sentences and paragraphs are choked with words that deliver little benefit and, not only keep us from getting to the point quickly, but frequently obscure what the point was to begin with.

As I shared in a post on Huffington Post, there are three ways you can you prune and fortify your communication.

  1. Know and Stick to Your Point

Stop beating around the bush.  Be clear about what you want to tell someone else.  And if you are hedging because you have to deliver bad news, don’t.  People can deal with bad news but they don’t respond well to incomplete or no information.

  1. Observe Your Writing/Speech

Take a cue from successful weight loss strategies that encourage dieters to keep a food diary. A word diary can help you track extra words that don’t really add any meaning or weaken your intent. Below are some words to avoid.

Empty or Extra Words Precise
 “I am just checking in” I am checking in…”
Large in size and blue in color Large and blue
It would be appreciated if… I would appreciate…
It’s really good. It’s excellent.
It was a particularly loud event. The event was loud.
It is being done in this way because… This enables….
We would prefer it if…. Please…
  1. Use Verbal Pruning Shears

When reviewing your writing, look at every sentence to see if you can make it shorter.  Ask yourself if every word is necessary.

Words are a commodity best used sparingly. Getting rid of the unnecessary verbiage will help you cut to the chase with communications that improve the connection to your reader and achieve your intent

By |2018-06-02T12:32:52+00:00August 23rd, 2016|Categories: Influence and Thought Leadership|0 Comments

About the Author:

Liz Wainger
Liz Wainger is a communications expert who works with executives and their teams to craft and deliver messages that win. She is the author of The Prism of Value™: Connect, Convince and Influence When It Matters Most and owner of Wainger Group. Want more tips? Follow her on Twitter @lizwainger

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