SVC on Twitter    SVC on Facebook    SVC on LinkedIn

Related Articles

Making Your Point

Oct 6, 2010 12:00 PM, By Don Kreski

How to write for websites, brochures, engineering documents, or email.

   Follow us on Twitter    

If you want to write in a way that makes your business more successful, you may have to forget what your high school English teacher taught you.

I know that because I was once an English teacher—or at least I was trained to be one before I started my career in marketing. In many ways, I've had to forget what I learned in high school in order to succeed as a writer.

The problem with high school English teachers is that most (though not all) teach a very formal writing style that's widely used and really dull. So unless you have a strong moral conviction that boredom and pain should be part of the working day, I'd like to make a few suggestions.

First of all, loosen up. If you have trouble getting started or dislike the process of writing, you can begin just by putting the information into the computer without worrying about your style. You can go back and polish what you wrote later.

  Related Links

The Production Process
If you're thinking about creating an online video to promote your business, you've probably asked yourself, "What's the best way to make it happen?"...

Making Your Case
"It's important that we find ways to communicate the quality of the work we do—not just with our usual marketing brochures, but with something more interactively appealing." That's what Candace Clarke, communications editor for AVI-SPL...

Design to Connect
One of the most important ways you can connect with potential customers is through your website, and one of the fastest ways to turn them off is with poor design. What makes the difference? ...

Simplicity and clarity

Clarity is your number-one goal in any written communication. People are busy. They want to know what you're saying and understand it quickly. It's almost always the case that if you can rephrase something in fewer words, you're better off. I can often trim 20 percent from the word count in a draft I've written without losing any meaning. The result is something that's easier to read and quite a bit more interesting.

The most deadly (and common) problem in American writing is passive voice, sentences where there is no subject. A phrase like "The conference center was designed for high definition" is inherently dull. We don't know who designed the system and we don't care. Rephrase it to read: "Ace designed a high-definition system." It says more in fewer words.

Some people don't like to use personal pronouns. That's a problem, too, because it forces them to passively say, "The system will be programmed to..." Take some responsibility for what you do: "We will program the system ..." or "I believe that ..." or "We will include ..." It's true that Miss Pence told you not to use "I" or "we" in a formal essay, but in the real world, people will appreciate your clarity and candor.

Some people avoid contractions. It is legitimate to keep your writing a little more formal than your conversation, if that's what you prefer. But realize that great writers in every age have tried to capture the sound of the spoken word. Individual styles vary, but if yours is wordy, unclear, or hard to read, you're going to have trouble communicating.

Acceptable Use Policy
blog comments powered by Disqus

Browse Back Issues
  January 2015 Sound & Video Contractor Cover December 2014 Sound & Video Contractor Cover November 2014 Sound & Video Contractor Cover October 2014 Sound & Video Contractor Cover September 2014 Sound & Video Contractor Cover August 2014 Sound & Video Contractor Cover  
January 2015 December 2014 November 2014 October 2014 September 2014 August 2014