Which are you more likely to write: “Do not waste energy” or “Conserve energy”?
Too often, people express themselves negatively without even realizing it. If your writing contains a lot of “no’s” and “not’s,” it’s a signal of negative writing.
Using positive, self-assured, optimistic language is a better way to promote your ideas. In the above example, “Conserve energy” is more persuasive because it makes readers feel good rather than admonished.
If you organize your words and create clear, effective copy, you'll not only communicate better, you'll also get the results you want. Learn how with Business Writing That Gets Results: Turn your words into a call to actionHere are 5 examples of negative sentences turned positive:
1. We hope you will not be disappointed with the results.
Positive: We hope you’ll be as pleased with the results as we are.
2. Without proper planning, we will not be able to prevent overcrowding.
Positive: We’re planning thoroughly in advance to keep the crowd to a manageable size.
3. If you don’t like my suggestions, please contact me.
Positive: Please contact me if you have any other suggestions. I’d welcome hearing them.
4. Don’t ignore details; they’re important.
Positive: If you can implement the plan down to the smallest details, you’ll realize better results.
5. This project is going to be nearly impossible to do.
Positive: I want this project to be successful, and to make sure it is, I need your help working around two potential roadblocks.
An author, executive and business writing teacher, David Silverman provides examples of effective (and ineffective) business writing, tips to getting the most out of few words and steps to follow so you can make sure every base is covered. Business Writing That Gets Results also includes an Appendix — 13 Quick Tips to Polish Your Business Writing — a collection of best-practices articles from Business Management Daily. Learn More...Does Your Writing Pass the Clarity Test?
Clear writing signals clear thinking. To tidy up your text:
Count words per sentence. After completing your first draft, count the number of words in each sentence and compute the average. If it’s between 15 and 20 words per sentence, you pass. But if you’re routinely writing long, convoluted sentences, you’re forcing readers to fight to figure out your point.
Example: In a letter asking customers to reply if they didn’t want their financial data sold to third parties, American Express sent a rambling missive with an average sentence length of 32 words. No wonder few customers responded.
Choose one adjective. Stringing synonyms together bores readers. Pick the best one and delete the rest.
Example: Replace “He had a tentative, uncertain, hesitant manner” with “He had a tentative manner.”
Make verbs stand alone. A lawyer might tell you to “cease and desist,” but it’s better to just write “stop.”
Also, look for phrases you can replace with verbs. Examples: Substitute “We’ll take into consideration” with “We’ll consider” and “I’m of the opinion that” with “I believe.”
Does your writing ever make the people reading it think, "Huh?"
Business Writing That Gets Results is your hands-on road map to clearer, more concise writing that gets you ahead.
Topics covered include:
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- The key difference between business writing and all other written communications
- The most common errors in style and usage
- How to structure a presentation or report to get the results you want
- When to use a table and when to use a graphic
- The best approach to revision and why it is so important
- What you need to check before you click “send”
- And much more!
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