What to Leave Out: Tips From a Professional Writing Services Veteran

It’s challenging enough to decide what to put into your written work, but good writing, or at least better writing, may be the result of what you leave out, according to one of the most experienced professional writing services providers – me.

 

Here are some tips:

Avoid modifers (adjectives/adverbs) as much as possible

It can be a struggle, but we should try hard to stop using these modifiers. Choosing simple, bold words to describe actions and objects makes it easy for your audience to understand – and remember – what you’re saying.

Examples:

  • When she “stabs” a straw into her drink, we can see the action, but when she “quickly pokes” the straw into her drink, it’s not as sharp.
  • When he “meanders” or “strolls” down Fifth Avenue, it’s more accurate than merely “walking slowly.”
  • And “famished” is much more descriptive than “very hungry.”

By using too many modifiers – and not reaching for a stronger verb or noun – we are encouraging readers to skim or skip passages. Words that don’t clearly convey meaning can erode their interest.  In fact, on a very high level, using fewer, simpler words builds trust.

Avoid weak words in presentations

You’ll find the same challenge – and solution – in your spoken presentations.  Short, crisp descriptions and stories are essential for winning over an audience, especially today when people are quickly distracted.  Certain weak words and phrases should be avoided, as well.

Examples*:

  • A little bit. “I’d like to talk a little bit about . . .” This phrase waters down your content.  “Let’s discuss the industry trends we need to consider.”  Much stronger.
  • Just want to say.  Compare “I just want to say that I think we face some problems” with “Listen! — Our backs are up against a wall about profit margins.”  Is there any question, which is stronger?
  • Talk about.   “First, I’ll talk about our challenges. Then I’ll talk about our new strategy. Then, I’ll talk about our new marketing initiatives.” Rather than tell people what you’re going to talk about, just jump in! “Our challenges have been difficult, but we have worked hard to develop a new strategy and marketing initiatives that will help us succeed.  Here’s how we did it…”
  • I know this slide is really busy.  Here, you’re apologizing for making a PowerPoint slide incomprehensible!  If a presenter can’t address everything on a slide, the slide IS too busy, and it needs to be broken up into more than one slide.
  • I’d like to start with a story. A story is one of the best ways to open a speech or presentation. But its effect is considerably weakened if you announce that you’re about to tell a story. It’s called “introducing the Introduction.”  Just tell it!
  • Moving right along . . . Truly a clear indication that you don’t know how to transition to your next point.  You can and should do better.
    * Examples from Gary Genard, “25 Words or Phrases to Avoid in Speeches and Presentations”

Good writing is about making the best word choices you can, and it takes some extra thought.  Whether you work for a bank, in an accounting office or for a professional writing services firm, the word choices you make will help determine how effective you will be. Leaving out unnecessary or weak words will serve you well.

Let’s talk about what you want to say.
Contact me today!

 

One comment on “What to Leave Out: Tips From a Professional Writing Services Veteran

  1. Mary Lynn Halland on

    Fabulous tips, Don. I feel like I just learned more than I ever did during a semester of college!

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