We all know how to write, at least we think we do, but writing in a way that is clear, interesting and engaging doesn’t come naturally to everyone. V Formation’s Lauren Mills shares a few tips on how to brush up your writing skills in order to communicate effectively.
In these days of mass communication, whether it be by email, text, social or traditional media, it is important to get your message across as succinctly as possible.
To do this, the importance of using plain English cannot be stressed enough. Plain English means writing with the audience in mind and presenting information clearly and accurately.
Sounds easy enough?
The test of good writing is whether you can convey to your readers exactly what you want them to know. If you write poor English, there is a risk you will fail to get your message across. Poor English is also likely to distract the attention of your reader.
Make your content interesting
It’s important to write in a way that interests the reader. I hate to break it to you, but in today’s content-saturated world, people don’t have time to spend on content they don’t enjoy reading. Thankfully, there are some powerful antidotes to boring content:
Firstly, imagine that you are telling a story rather than conveying a series of facts. Short, simple stories can be included in any article to up the interest factor.
Don’t be afraid of writing in the first person. The third person voice, in which you refer to “the author”, or avoiding all references to the self, can be dry and awkward.
Use transitions in your text to signal that you’re about to switch direction. Sometimes writers abruptly veer from one topic straight to another. The reader, unprepared for the transition, mentally falls off. Transitions keep this from happening. The easiest way to create a transition is through visual cues – big headlines, numbered lists, sub-headings, that sort of thing. These are simple, easy, and quick ways to keep your readers interested and engaged throughout the course of the article.
Often, when writers try to be “more interesting,” they consider techniques like using active verbs or sparkling vocabulary. I have nothing against active verbs or cool words, but that’s not the best way to become more interesting.
You become interesting by being clear.
Clarity is saying what you need to say – nothing less, nothing more. It’s about using the right words in the right place. It’s about cutting out stuff that distracts. It’s about being plain, not fancy. If you can be clear, you will be more interesting. It’s that simple.
Tips for improving your writing:
- Before you start writing, make sure you know exactly what you want to say.
- Make the content interesting
- Keep sentences short and to the point. Varying the length of sentences livens up the copy and helps keep the reader engaged.
- Avoid technical jargon – will your reader understand what you mean?
- Be clear and concise – don’t use five words when three will do
- Use sub-headings
- Proofread the finished article, checking grammar, spelling and punctuation.