Thursday, June 18, 2015

[Link] How to Write with Substance and Improve Your Communication

by Gregory Ciotti

Nothing drags down writing more than spreading good ideas over too many words.

Making keystrokes matter has only grown in importance as communication and the text that powers it become increasingly inseparable. Many tools we rely on each day—Gmail, Slack, Asana—would be empty shells without the words.

Since everyone in the company is responsible for communicating well, everyone is also responsible for writing well. The importance of this is multiplied when working in a remote culture.

For essays, updates, announcements, emails, and more, here’s an abridged guide to writing with clarity and substance.

Write to express,
not to impress

Communication is a mix of vision and conversation. Having noticed something interesting, you now seek to direct the attention of the reader so that they might see it with their own eyes. What you choose to write is for the use of someone else. Always choose selflessly.

The bloated prose found in academia and “legalese” is a reminder of what’s at stake. In The Sense of Style, Harvard linguist Steven Pinker points out that smart people sour their thoughts through attempts to impress others. They spurn simplicity from a desire to prove that they are not bad scientists, lawyers, or academics—in doing so, they unwittingly prove they are bad communicators.

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