All Articles

Write the way everyone understands

write-the-way-everyone-understands.jpg Photo by Iga Palacz on Unsplash

We live in the age of remote communication, where most of our daily interactions happen over the wire. We text our friends, browse social media, comment on others’ posts and pictures. At work, we communicate over Messaging Applications like Slack most of the day. We have requirement documents for projects, planning documents for initiatives, so many types of materials that I cannot cover here. Even we put together sheets for camping trips. When we meet, we put down the agenda and goal of the meeting in the calendar. But worst of all, we communicate with people in channels and try to convey our point to them. Sometimes it can become frustrating, sometimes people misunderstand or don’t understand our intentions.

How can we communicate clearly and concisely in all these channels?

How can we succeed in our communication with other people? How to keep and take other people’s attention? How to make our audience go through our written documents effortlessly and with understanding? Several techniques can help you learn to write clearly and concisely to motivate your audience to read and respond favorably to your communication. Here are some tips to make your writing even more clear:

👉 Avoid unnecessary “fancy” words

Using straightforward words can help your audience understand your intention better. Be simple in your word choosy, Here are some words replacements you can consider:

write-the-way-everyone-understands-1.png

👉 Eliminate redundant words

Unnecessary words come in many forms. Like vague words, they can conceal instead of reveal your meaning. They can weigh down your writing and make it hard to understand. You can often replace phrases like these with single words. Your writing will be more concise and energetic, and readers will find it more enjoyable.

Wordy:
It's essential that you have your ID with you.

Clear:
You must have your ID with you.
Wordy:
There is an occasion for us to inspect the machinery.

Clear:
We need to inspect the machinery.
Wordy:
Every student has the ability to excel in this math class.

Clear:
Every student can excel in this math class.

👉 Remove unnecessary “and”s

Wordy:
check-in with your colleagues and ask them how they are.

Clear:
check-in with your colleagues, ask them how they are.

👉 Avoid starting sentences with “there ”, “this”, or “it”.

Though a sentence may be grammatically correct, writing more concisely may be a better choice. Sentences that start with there/this or it can usually be shortened. It may be unclear who or what there/it is referring to. Consider rewriting the sentence to remove the unclear reference.

Wordy: 
There are studies that prove that 
a greater percentage of the things we worry 
about never actually happen.

Clear:
Studies prove that a greater percentage of 
the things we worry about never actually happen.
Wordy:
There are some people who tend to compose 
very long sentences.

Clear:
Some people tend to compose very long sentences.

👉 Eliminate extra nouns

Extra nouns that does not provide additional context and meaning to sentence can make you sentence unclear. Wordy: Make sure you have strict boundaries on work time.

Clear: 
Ensure you have strict boundaries on work time.

Wordy: 
Luis was interested in the data processing field.

Clear: 
Luis was interested in data processing.

👉 Replace multiple negatives with affirmatives

Multiple negatives require your readers to interpret your meaning. Affirmatives, instead, convey concise meaning that needs no interpretation.

Wordy:
Your audience will not appreciate the details that lack relevance.

Clear:
Your audience will appreciate relevant details.

👉 Don’t use filler words

Words and phrases such as basically, actually, in fact, and for all intents and purposes are often considered to be filler phrases. They make sentences wordy without contributing any important information. Avoiding empty filler words and phrases will make your writing more precise.

Wordy:
As a matter of fact I was talking to him this morning.

Clear:
I was talking to him this morning.

Wordy:
Basically, they lost because they didn't bother to practice.

Clear:
They lost because they didn't bother to practice.

👉 Use Active voice

The passive voice is not a grammatical error. It’s a style choice. However, most readers prefer the active voice. ( I saw mom ) In a clause written in the active voice, the subject of the clause performs the action. In a clause written in the passive voice, the action is performed upon the subject of the clause. ( Mom was seen ) The active voice can provide more clarity, brevity, accountability, or certainty than the passive voice. If the active voice makes sense, use it. However, the passive voice may be more appropriate when the actor is unimportant or unknown.

Wordy:
The mayor was informed of the accounting errors.

Clear:
Mr Lee informed the mayor of the accounting errors.

Wordy:
Mistakes were made.

Clear:
We made mistakes.

👉 Know when to use technical works_jargons and when not to

When Communicating with non-technical colleagues don’t use technical words. You need to be able to explain technical details in a non-technical way. Use abstractions and analogies instead.

For example, instead of using the technical term RAM:

Use a synonym:

“memory” instead of “RAM.”

Describe the term:

“RAM allows your computer to run more quickly and efficiently.”

Compare the term with a common concept:

“RAM is like having a large desk with numerous drawers for storage. You can quickly and efficiently * * access your files at a moment’s notice.”

Define the term:

“RAM, or random access memory, is one type of computer data storage systems. It allows your computer to quickly and efficiently access files.”


Hope this article was useful and motivated you to pay more attention on the way you write at work.

Originally published on Medium.