October 18, 2016 admin

How to Write So People Listen

Close-up of secretary’s hands doing paperwork

Speak, don’t write.

If you want your writing to be interesting, act like you’re speaking, not writing. And put that on the page. Wait – can you start a sentence with and?! Yes. Because from now on, we’re going to write the way we speak.

Here’s this issue. Most people write according to rules that are fine for school English assignments with little at stake – but near useless in your effort to catch the attention of a busy customer.

Be brief.

Short words and short sentences should always be used in place of longer alternatives. Short words and sentences have a stronger impact on your reader as they don’t need to be thought about or translated down into easier to visualise mental images.

Which of these was easier to picture?

  1. He snapped the hinge and ran through the doorway.
  1. The individual dislocated the door’s adjoining hinge and proceeded to hastily manoeuvre into the premises.

Otherwise interesting conversationalists can switch to long sentences and words when corporate writing because they equate it with professionalism, but they only end up producing duller text that doesn’t work as well.

Be active.

Active speech starts with a person and then describes what they did. The subject is in charge of the object. Passive speech puts the object in charge.

ACTIVE: I started the business.
PASSIVE: The business was started by me.

In most cases, you should use active speech as it’s more direct and compelling. There are some situations, where passive speech can sound more natural and interesting. For example:

PASSIVE: The mood in the room was tense and aggressive.
ACTIVE: Tension and aggression filled the room.

Think about this active versus passive distinction as you write so that you write actively most of them time and passively where needed.

Be vibrant.

Although our second rule is to use the simplest words possible, that doesn’t mean you have to use the most boring words. Compelling speech is graphic and alive. If it’s relevant and not over the top, use ‘destroy’ instead of ‘defeat’, ‘thump’ instead of ‘hit’. Vibrant words paint a clear mental image.

Avoid clichés.

Cliches cause your reader to tune out. ‘After all is said and done’, ‘in relation to’, ‘pursuant to’. Express yourself in a direct, conversational way and you shouldn’t need to use any of these.

Please contact us if you need help with your writing project. In the meantime, the above 5 rules should help you to write so people listen and more importantly, act.