This year make an effort to improve your communication skills. Here are some of the secrets you may not have learned at school.
Unless your writing is easy to read many of your readers will not finish reading it, or misunderstand your message.
Bait your messages at the start to hook your reader.
The five best tips for making your writing easier to read
* Use simple words
If you want your writing to be read use simple, clear language and familiar words – words your readers can relate to.
When you have a choice of words , use the simplest word available. For example; for ‘excavate’ use ‘dig’; for ‘contribute’ use ‘give’; for ‘purchase’ use ‘buy’.
Use precise words with the exact meaning you want. (Simple words are easier to translate into other languages and English is a second language for many people.)
* Use active words
Use words that arouse people’s interest and stir them to action. “To improve your writing act on these tips.”
Make your writing lively. Active verbs are strong and positive.
* Write as you would talk
Be enthusiastic about your topic .
Be conversational. Use ‘you‘ and ‘we‘ so readers feel included. Use short sentences and short paragraphs.
Write a rough draft. Get your ideas down but leave your polishing for later.
Pretend you are talking to your readers. Invent conversations to help you emphasise a point or create interest. “Do you see what I mean?”
* Remove surplus words, edit, edit, edit!
Remove all unnecessary words and phrases.
Some phrases can be replaced with a single word. For example, ‘in order that’ (so); ‘in the near future’ (soon); ‘at this point of time’ (now).
Check for logic and continuity.
Check spelling, grammar and punctuation.
Look for ambiguous or unclear statements.
* Make your pages lively
Use short sentences and short paragraphs.
Use sub-headings; list points with numbers or bullets.
Insert illustrations, diagrams or cartoons.
Set out your pages to make them look interesting. If possible avoid large blocks of solid text.
Make people want to stop and read your writing to see what’s in it for them.
“The shorter your words and sentences, the easier they are to read and heed.”
SOURCE: For more on this topic see; “Persuasive Ways” first published by Moss Associates Ltd, New Zealand and in Chinese by Shanghai People’s Publishing House and as “Secrets of Persuasion” by Cengage Learning Asia. (Available as an e-book from Amazon.com.) Also available as “Getting Your Ideas Across” from Kogan Page, U.K and a Hungarian translation published by Bagolyvar Konyvkiado, Budapest.