write clearly! it’s not your mission to confuse and bedazzle!
Posted on 01 February 2010
There’s a bee in my bonnet. Its buzzing grows louder with every stilted email full of unnecessary jargon and poor grammar. It ricochets wildly with every corporate cliché and meaningless acronym. There’s a mud shoveling effort afoot in business writing and the waters grow murkier by the day.
Why seemingly sensible human beings will speak in plain English on the telephone then drop synergy-bombs and litter “leverages” throughout their writing baffles me. Is it to impress your audience with your in-crowd vocabulary? Through confusion, do you hope to impress and awe? I’ve always thought that effective writing means getting your point across clearly with a voice and tone that suit the situation.
Whilst I don’t claim to be a terrific writer, here are just a few things that I avoid like the plague when creating an email.
- Using an unnecessarily long word when a short one gets the same point across:
- ascertain instead of find out
- undertake instead of do or agree to
- numerous instead of many
- Replacing an easily explained concept with an undefined acronym:
- PMO instead of “our current approach” or “what we do now”
- FMO instead of “a new approach” or “what we will do in future”
- Not only using a business-wank word, but misusing it! I’ve already whinged about leveraging instead of using but damn that pisses me off.
- Liberal application of clichés:
- Best in breed
- Low-hanging fruit
- Drill down
- Cascading information
- Moving forward
- Touch base about that offline
- In this space
- The list goes on…
I’m afraid I’m fighting a losing battle. Does anyone feel like adding to my collection of writing sins?