Give Me a KISS (Keep It Short & Simple)
How to Say It in Cyberspace -- Bright Ideas for Communicating
If you write well, you can reach people. You can persuade them. Express yourself. Maybe even seduce someone. But not if you bore them, and not if you make them work too hard!
Help Your Reader
These days, we all suffer from information overload. Help your reader. Get to the point. Don't dilly-dally.
For good or bad, the Net moves fast. If you don't communicate fast, your reader clicks to the next email, a new website. Think MTV. Think about ways to maximize your words.
Every Word's Got to Count!
Cut those little words that connect but don't contribute:
FIRST: People are the lifeblood of a company.
BETTER: People are a company's lifeblood. Shazam! Two words cut!
FIRST: They have a technician who will make himself available 24 hours a day.
BETTER: They have a 24-hour technician. A seven-word savings! Possibly extreme -- but see if you can make do with less.
Verbs Work Hard. Nouns Just Sit There.
Sometimes we turn verbs into nouns. This makes them lazy. Example:
FIRST: I would hesitate to put a home at risk. Risk works well as a verb, but here it's castrated into a noun.
BETTER: I would hesitate to risk a home. It takes back some cajones.
EVEN BETTER: I wouldn't risk a home. True, they aren't the same. Does it matter?
Whenever you can "hire" a verb over a noun, DO IT!
FIRST: It came as a shock to him.
BETTER: It shocked him.
FIRST: She gave Sheldon a loan of $1,000.
BETTER: She lent Sheldon $1,000.
Words Cost Time & Space: Shop Selectively
If you can "spend" one word instead of three, go for it:
FIRST: The company did extremely well.
BETTER: The company succeeded. The meaning of three for the price of one!
FIRST: This is expensive, but there are a few exceptions.
BETTER: This is expensive, with exceptions. Saved four words! Too stingy? Not if it does the job -- and leaves room for more valuable info.
Forget Sophomore English -- Paragraphs Have Gone on a Diet.
Like words on the Net, paragraphs need to stay lean. What's a paragraph, anyway? An indented cluster of introductory, topic, and supporting sentences? Fine -- for a Scarlet Letter essay.
A Dr. Matt Cyber-paragraph
Every new idea deserves its own paragraph. Every time your ideas twist, turn, invent, or contradict, hit Return -- no need to indent.
In online sales letters, each product, each service, every benefit and feature starts a fresh paragraph. It might run three sentences. Or just two words -- if they express one whole idea.
Too much text intimidates the eyes, no matter how good it sounds. Look at your paragraphs onscreen. If they look interesting and approachable -- and not like 24 flights of stairs to climb -- you're ready to welcome your online reader.
Other articles about communicating well in today's marketplace:
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