The Art of Writing With Brevity

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I come from the world of Public Relations, which I believe is all about succinct, clear communications to external audiences. From my years in the field, I learned an extremely valuable lesson for effective communications that has carried with me ever since and will most certainly be a constant theme throughout my career. What I learned is that brevity is king!

Just like people typically don’t like all the endless pages of detail in novels, people don’t like to be overwhelmed with unnecessary fluff in business communications either. Much like the 10-second elevator speech, you need to keep your sales, marketing and website copy short and directly to the point.

When I’m writing an article, a press release, website copy, a brochure or any other sales/marketing materials, I use a rule of thumb that hasn’t failed me yet. Write your first draft and then carefully go back and review every single word. Consider taking out or combining as many secondary words as you can without changing the meaning or the impact of the text. If you can successfully pull out or combine words without changing the meaning, then you have learned the art of writing with brevity. Give it a try.

Here’s an example of the intro sentence to a press release to give you some additional insight into what I’m proposing:

First draft: Tubular Water Cooler Inc. today announced the launch of a new line of water cooling systems that work with solar power energy to keep themselves cool at all times.

Second, abridged draft: Tubular Water Cooler Inc. today announced a new line of solar-powered water cooling systems that continually keep themselves cool.

You’ll note that the first draft version is 29 words and the second, abridged draft is only 19. I would argue that they say the exact same thing and the second version actually has more punch, even with 10 less words.

In this short article I feel I have already made my point, and in the interest of brevity, this is therefore all I am going to say.

Kevin B. Levi
www.winningmessage.com
www.muckrakeronline.com

Comments

  1. When writing anything, you need to tailor it to your audience. Another factor is people’s time. You don’t want to write a long essay, when you could have summarized it in 4 sentences to an executive.

  2. Good comment Dan, as always!

  3. Your advice on press releases is right on the mark.
    You might be interested in knowing that I’m offering a free email tutorial called “89 Ways to Write Powerful Press Releases.”

    I explain why we should no longer be writing press releases only for the press, but for consumers who can find the releases online, click through to our websites and enter our sales cycle, even if journalists don’t think our release is worthy of attention.

    The course includes several terrific press release samples as well as “before” and “after” makeovers.

    You can sign up for the free press release writing tutorial at http://www.PublicityHound.com/pressreleasetips/art.htm

    It’s a very long tutorial but please stick with it. By the time you’re done, it will be like earning a master’s degree in writing and distributing press releases. And you’ll know more about this topic than many PR people.

  4. Brevity? Amen.

  5. I tend to be wordy. This is as brief as I get.

  6. Although language is a living, changing art,

    current standards would correct your phrase

    “…even with 10 less words…”

    to

    “even with ten fewer words…”

  7. I totally agree. In writing any piece clarity is essential. And it can only be clear if everything is concise and straight to the point. Nice post!

  8. Great post! Thanks for sharing!