Keep it Simple: 4 Tips to Writing Concisely

Today’s post will be short and sweet, in honor of its noble mission.

I’m going to tell you my top tips to creating clear, concise copy that drives your readers to ACT.

You ready?

Let’s do this.

 

Tip #1: Think like a penny-pincher.

The fancy-pants word of the day: Parsimony.

Literally it means “thrifty” or “the quality or state of being careful with money or resources” – even stingy!

Metaphorically, it means we need to write on a word budget. Every word should serve a purpose, or else it’s GOT to go.

I was introduced to the notion of parsimony while earning my master’s degree at TCU. One of my many fave professors, Dr. Witt, told me I should use fewer words to make my point(s).

And he was right. (That particular paper had a lot of verbal junk in the trunk.)

Take a close look at your most recent blog post or newsletter.

Do you think he’d tell you the same?

Tip #2: Respect their time.

If your dream clients are like my dream clients, they’re pretty busy.

They view time as money. They can save it, spend it, or waste it. (And they really hate to waste it.)

Time is a precious resource. We only have a finite amount in each day, each year, each lifetime.

So if people are voluntarily spending time reading YOUR content, you better make it worth it.

Make your site easy to navigate. Make your posts easy to scan. Make your sentences easy to understand.

The last thing you want your readers thinking is, “Get to the point, will ya?!”

(Because that would be embarrassing.)

Want even more help writing concisely? Download this free worksheet to help you get there!

Tip #3: Go on a word diet.

“They” say when you prep for a trip you should pack everything you want to take with you, then go back and take half of it out.

That’s probably a safe rule for blog posts, emails, and just about ANYTHING that you write.

Superfluous (make that TWO fancy-pants!) words are unwelcome invaders taking up precious white space. More importantly, they’re taking up your readers’ time.

That extra story or one-liner may seem really interesting to YOU, but is it really relevant for the reader? Does it really add value?

It’s tough to admit when a word or phrase is useless. It’s easy to get emotionally attached to certain sentences. But if they don’t add to the bottom line, they’re dead weight.

Say your goodbyes, and move on down the page.

Get SERIOUS about scrubbing each and every post or email you write. Read it, reread it, take a break to walk away, then come back to read it again. Each word must pass muster in order to make the final cut.

When it comes to your brilliant message, only the A-team will do.

Tip #4: Keep it movin’

Action, action, we want action! (Jock Jams, anyone?)

As a society we like to move quickly these days, don’t we?

When we read short, simple, sentences, we develop a subconscious sense of accomplishment.

Look at me, movin’ on down the page!

Look at me, already on a whole new paragraph!

MAN I’m really fast!

Seriously. We like to check things off of the list. Even sentences.

Quickly reading great posts and articles makes us feel productive.

And you know what makes us feel even MORE productive?

Action steps. Even if we don’t DO them, we feel more productive just reading them.

So take a second and whip up something like this…..

This Week’s Homework:

  1. Pick a post or email – past, present, or future –  to streamline.
  2. Cut your word count by at LEAST 25%. Just as an exercise. Just to prove you can do it. (You may realize it’s WAY better!)
  3. Come tell me about your sweet victory on my Facebook page!

Nikki

3

LET’S TALK ABOUT IT.

  1. Kelly Pietrangeli

    Love this Nikki. I will leave it at that. Ha ha! Just kidding (I can never keep it that brief!) I’ve been practicing this skill of going back and editing after I write, chopping out unnecessary words – or entire sentences, restructuring sentences to get to the point faster and breaking them up into tiny paragraphs. The improved result is incredible. Your post puts all of this into a single reference for me and I’ll print and hang near my desk to keep me on the straight and narrow ;)

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      That is FABULOUS, Kelly! So glad it’s helpful for you.

      I should probably reread it every time I write something too ;)

  2. Sarah Jensen

    Love this Nikki. I’m a wordy pants from way back and when the word God was handing out the skillz I was talking in the corner instead of getting my CONCISE on. Great article. Thank you. (I’d usually keep gushing right now but I’m putting your advice to work). Over and out!

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