With the diminishing time you have to communicate, it’s a good idea to tighten your communications and say everything that needs to be said in half the words. With thought and discipline, you can do great things in small spaces.
Here are six tips from Brady Dennis, who as a reporter at the St. Petersburg Times wrote a series of profiles in just 300 words apiece.
1. Slice it thin. If you narrow your focus, you can cover more about less.
2. Don’t repeat yourself. Are you giving the same information at the beginning, middle and end of your remarks? Don’t. Every single statement should advance the idea.
3. Use specific examples. It may be tempting to cut them out so you can expand on the main thought, but without an example to nail it down, the concept might be too vague.
4. Fuss over words. Words are your weapon, so choose them carefully. Passive voice is weaker than active voice; use it sparingly. Example: “Mistakes were made” (passive) versus “I’ll take the blame” (active).
5. Chop it down. Trim words from your writing. Go after modifiers and extra phrases. Prune dead limbs and leaves.
6. Cover only highlights. You are not publishing the minutes of a meeting. Skip insignificant details. Don’t quote boring passages; if they’re important, sum them up.
— Adapted from “Writing Short, Writing Smart,” Linda Perlstein, Education Writers Association.