What do you suppose the most common New Year’s resolution is? I bet you think it has to do with losing weight and getting in better physical shape; I know that’s my first guess. And it turns out to be right – getting in shape is the number one resolution people make, according to The Goalsguy’s Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions.
At this time of year you see advertisements targeted at improving fitness, deals to join gyms, posters advertising boot camp, invitations to sign up with personal trainers, everywhere. And like every other January, there’s a lot of buzz about the latest greatest diets.
I know you’re going to hate me for this. But I’m one of the lucky ones. When it comes to weight loss – dieting is not something I need to do. On the other hand, sometimes my writing could stand to lose a little weight! I admit on occasion I do have a tendency to get wordy.
But getting your writing in shape is not nearly as daunting as dieting or suddenly beginning a brand new exercise regime. You would probably know if you’ve tried either, that after the first few weeks, it’s tough to keep up the motivation. My dieting friends tell me they always start wondering if the diet they’ve chosen really is doing the trick, and even if it is, how they’ll stick with it.
As for boot camp, which offers a total, body fat blasting workout, you’ll soon find out that it and your knees do not get along. In fact anything called “boot camp” is probably best suited to someone in the armed forces! No wonder these extreme exercise resolutions are hard to keep up.
Yet, there is one resolution for shaping up that’s simple to keep up though – reducing the wordiness in your writing. And the pay off is great. Your mean-and-lean business documents will surely impress your prospective clients, your employer or your colleagues. And here they are!
The Language Lab’s 5 Simple Tips for Reducing Wordiness
- Write Concisely: Make sure you express your ideas in as few words as possible. Use precise verbs, concrete nouns and vivid adjectives. And make every word count.
- Avoid Redundancies: It’s all too easy to repeat ideas or re-word them. If you see two words in a sentence that mean the same thing, remove one. Chances are, it won’t affect the meaning of your sentence.
- Use Plain English. The tendency to become unnecessarily formal and verbose, using multi-syllabic words when simple ones will do, is quite common in business documents. Don’t overcomplicate your business writing; it only confuses your poor reader. (See Just Say It In Plain English for more detail.)
- Avoid Business Jargon. Using specialized terms may make you feel you’re demonstrating you’re “in the know.” But not every person reading your document will necessarily understand the jargon you’ve used. And you don’t want to alienate anyone. (See Business English, Annoying Jargon to get a better understanding of the dangers of using jargon.)
- Edit Ruthlessly: Reread, rewrite and prune. If possible, put your document aside for a while, maybe overnight. Then come back to it once more for that final edit. You might even try reading it aloud; it’ll help clean up unnecessary words. Remember; be ruthless!
I thought you might be interested to know that the #2 resolution people make, according to the Goalsguy survey, is stick to a budget, and #3 is debt reduction. So think of it this way:
Reducing wordiness in your writing is a snap compared to existing on the cabbage soup diet, counting your pennies, or paying down that credit card. You can learn how with our online email writing course. And it’s a whole lot more pleasant than boot camp!
Did you make a New Year’s resolution? Let us know what it is and what you are you doing to achieve it.