The Author's Voice
What's the Word Blog
“One of the agonies of being an author is to know when to stop writing.” ~ Henning Mankell
Concise: “Expressing or covering much in few words; brief in form but comprehensive in scope.”
One theme I’ve come across in my years of business is Bad Messaging Makes Businesses Broke. Statistics by NN/g Nielsen Norman Group state, “users often leave web pages in 10-20 seconds, but pages with a CLEAR value proposition can hold people’s attention for much longer. To gain several minutes of user attention, you must clearly communicate your value proposition within 10 seconds,” and this stat was from 10 years ago! Can you imagine it’s probably even shorter today!
Stick with your main point.
Stay away from industry jargon.
Write short, direct sentences.
An important goal in making sure you have a clear message is to stick to your your main topic, use words your audience understands, and keep it simple. Below are three ways to keep your message concise.
1. Stick with your main point.
You’re assigned to write a 750-word blog. What are you trying to say? It’s important for you to start with the main topic of your blog and elaborate as needed. For example, you are a travel agent and you want to write a blog on how you can work with families to plan their trip from beginning to end. Your main point might be how you can relieve their stress by creating a schedule for when they’re leaving, organizing their flight plans, making reservations for where they’re going to stay and for how long, and providing lists for family-friendly restaurants. Make sure you lead off your article stating exactly how you can relieve their stress so your readers know what you are talking about. Everything else you write supports your main point.
Below is one of my favorite quotes:
2. Stay away from industry jargon.
In the travel industry, agents use certain expressions amongst themselves, but your clients and your audience probably won’t understand the terms so make sure your message stays clear of jargon. For instance, instead of writing LDW (loss damage waiver) or MAP (modified American plan), explain to your audience exactly what those terms mean. The last thing you want to do is to confuse your audience or you can lose them.
One funny story I have is up until about a few years ago I had no idea who or what a POTUS, SCOTUS, and FLOTUS were. I kept hearing the media talk about President Bush as a POTUS. If people don’t know the jargon, they won’t be able to follow you.
3. Use short, direct sentences.
It sounds silly but think back to grade school. We were taught to write clear sentences which are to the point and easy to read. One way to do this is to put the subject first in the sentence: The travel agent planned a trip for the school band. After you’ve written your blog or pamphlet you can always go back and eliminate the extra, unnecessary words.
“The point of good writing is knowing when to stop.” ~ Lucy Maud Montgomery
It's important for you to take the time to go back and reread your blog, and make sure it says what you want using as few words as possible. I'm a perfect example of writing too much in my first draft. After I step away for a bit of time, I go back and take out all the extra wording so it's clean and clear!
If you remember to stick to your main message, stay away from using your industry's jargon, and realize it's okay to write simple, direct sentences, you'll discover your audience pays attention to what you're saying and stays on your website for more than 10 seconds! Which of the three tips here resonate with you to start making sure your message is concise?
In Part 2, I'll discuss how your use of language helps you create a clear message.