For me speaking and communicating with people is what helps me earn my living. I am a sales professional, who now has transitioned into a leadership role. Speaking effectively is what I have developed over years and helps me earn my living. However, in my new role as a senior leadership position, I have to write across forums, blogs, and platforms and effectively communicate my message through writing.
This is where I realized that writing is similar but different in as many ways than speaking. If you can communicate effectively verbally, does not guarantee that you will be able to make the same impact while you write. In fact, this realization comes to me when I did read my first article published in a local journal as a PR exercise. I kept wondering if there is something amiss, why can’t I seem to have the same impact that other writers make?
After a lot of improvements and learning, I have gathered 7 Tips that can instantly make your writing effective. Not only you will get your message across effectively but you will also be able to engage your readers. It will have a positive impact on the overall objective that you wish to achieve by writing.
Below is the list of 7 Tips that can instantly make your writing effective
1. FOCUS ON THE MESSAGE NOT THE WORDS
We often make the mistake of choosing the words or sentences first to write, then the actual message. The problem is when you chose your words first and then try to communicate the main message, it distorts the message and confuses the reader.
I have seen many people deciding few sentences and words and try to convey their message through these pre-defined bits of words, phrases, and sentences. This is more common while writing e-mails. People often download the format of the email and try to embed their message later. Nothing wrong in referring to a format but always put the message first and try to weave your words around the message. I can assure you that it works, with a little practice you too can perfect this basic requirement of an effective writing.
2. USE TRANSITION WORDS
Transition words are words like ‘most importantly’, ‘because’, ‘therefore’, or ‘besides that’ ‘furthermore’. Using transition words will make your text much more readable, as these words give direction and context to your readers. Using them is like giving foundation to your sentences: the relation between two sentences becomes apparent by the use of transition words.
They send a signal to your readers that something is coming up, and prepare them for the next sentence.
|Function they perform||Example of transition words|
|Enumeration||first of all, also, another, furthermore, finally|
|Cause||because, so, due to, for the reason that|
|Comparison/contrast||similarly, likewise, rather, while, in contrast|
|Conclusion||as a result, hence, consequently, therefore|
|Fuzzy signals||seem like, maybe, probably, almost|
|Emphasis||above all, most noteworthy, certainly, even more|
Start using transition words to make your writing more readable and clear
3. YOUR WRITING SHOULD CONTAIN MAXIMUM ACTIVE VOICE, AVOID PASSIVE VOICE TO THE EXTENT PRACTICALLY POSSIBLE
I will take an example from a sentence written above
The problem is when you chose your words first and then try to communicate the main message, the message gets distorted and it confuses the reader
Can you write it this way
The problem is when you chose your words first and then try to communicate the main message, it distorts the message and confuses the reader
When we speak we use of a lot of passive voice, which also then gets transmitted to our writing.
In a sentence written in the active voice, the subject of the sentence performs the action. In a sentence written in the passive voice, the subject receives the action.
|Active: The Person believes that Government must place a cap on their spendings
Passive: It is believed by the person that a cap must be placed on the spending by the Government
|Active: Researchers earlier showed that high stress can cause heart attacks.
Passive: It was earlier demonstrated that heart attacks can be caused by high stress.
|Active: The cat bit the man.
Passive: The man was bitten by the cat.
4. WRITE SHORT SENTENCES
This is a mistake we all make, try to make one subject enumerated by large sentences. Nothing wrong in it but when you write a long sentence try to break them into short sentences if possible and see the magic.
5. SIMPLICITY HAS NO SUBSTITUTE
No matter how much tempted you are to use heavy words an metaphor, use high simple words that can describe the same message. Why would you want your writing to be limited to only a few who can understand what your words mean? However, there are exceptions in socio-legal documents and some other formats.
For the rest 99% of them, try using simple words to explain your message. Yes I understand that few words are difficult to be replaced and you may have to use them for e.g I can’t think of a single word that can substitute a word like ‘Oxymoron’. Go ahead use them but use them as less as possible.
6. BREAK DOWN YOU WRITING FOR BETTER READING
A normal paragraph should not ideally be within 200 words. Consider 300 words as the maximum and never go beyond it. Also, give all your paragraphs subheadings to make it more readable and your reader will be able to maintain their focus on what they are writing. Subheading also acts as the anchor point and makes it easier for a reader to refer back to a paragraph and sentence you have written
7. WE NEED CONTEXT EVERY NOW AND THEN
Always provide a context of what is going to follow. Don’t ever think that the reader will automatically understand what is to follow. Many people make a mistake of just writing the heading and multiple paragraphs, thinking their reader will understand what the context is by the heading or subject they are writing on.
You know the subject you are writing on, but a reader is not aware of what you are mean in the paragraph that is to follow your heading. A clear subheading helps but does not completely solve the problem. You should provide a simple explanation as to what is to follow in the upcoming writing.