Four Terrific Tactics for Improving Comprehension, Part 2

This series of posts will describe four terrific tactics that you can use to improve comprehension.

The four tactics are:

  1. 1. Make “who did what” clear.
  2. 2. Edit for clarity.
  3. 3. Eschew obfuscation!
  4. 4. Use specific words.

This week, I will talk about Tactic #2.

  1. Edit for clarity.

Editing for clarity means that you try to see how tight, how “bare bones” you can get. Pretend you’re sending a telegram at a dollar a word. Are you getting your money’s worth?

Tighten up the following sentences to see how little you can pay for that telegram:

a. Example: They went to the store, and while doing so, stopped by to see Mary ($3 budget)

b. Example: Let me hasten to say, Mrs. Brown, that should the opportunity ever arise, I shall endeavor to do my utmost to carry through the program you outlined. ($2 budget)

Answers after the cut…

Answers

a. Example: They went to the store, and while doing so, stopped by to see Mary ($3 budget)

Answer: They saw Mary.


When tightening up your sentence, look for the bare bones.  Then flesh out the skeleton with any additional information that your reader absolutely needs under the particular circumstances.

b. Example: Let me hasten to say, Mrs. Brown, that should the opportunity ever arise, I shall endeavor to do my utmost to carry through the program you outlined. ($2 budget)

Answer: I’ll try.


In the business situation, less is frequently more, as in “write less and say more,” which is a Gail Tycer workshop theme. Tone – the relationship the writer sets up with the reader –may be a reason for dressing up your skeleton sentence if it sounds too abrupt.  If you’d like to, please post your answers in the comments section. This week, try to tighten up your own writing!

Gail Tycer is a strategic business communication authority: professional speaker; writer, author, editor; coach, consultant, facilitator, and strategist. More free business writing tips from Gail Tycer are available here, and information about Gail’s Business Writing workshops is available here.


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© 2013 Gail Tycer • www.GailTycer.com

Published in: on October 15, 2009 at 7:30 pm  Leave a Comment  
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