Every professional knows what it’s like to struggle through a long, wordy document. Sometimes, it feels like entering a labyrinth of words, where the key message is hidden behind a heavy veil of verbosity. What if I told you that you can communicate your business ideas more effectively with fewer words? Welcome to the art of concise communication!
The benefits of brevity in business communication are twofold. On the one hand, concise documents respect the reader’s time, keeping them engaged and attentive. On the other hand, concise communication allows your key messages to shine. Here’s how you can write more concise texts and amplify the impact of your business communication.
What is concise communication?
Concise communication is the art of expressing ideas in the fewest possible words without sacrificing clarity or meaning. It requires distilling a message down to its essential components, eliminating unnecessary words and redundancies.
In concise communication, every word has a purpose and contributes to the overall understanding of the message. This form of communication is efficient, respectful of the reader’s time, and can often result in a more impactful, memorable message.
Why brevity matters in business communication
Imagine Laura, a busy executive who is constantly juggling tasks. One day, she receives an email from her team about a project update. The email is lengthy, filled with complex jargon and meandering explanations. Laura quickly loses interest, the main points become lost, and the project’s progress stalls.
This example is all too common. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that more words equate to more clarity or intelligence. The reality is, unnecessary words can dilute the message, causing your key points to lose their impact and the reader to lose interest.
In the era of digital communication and short attention spans, brevity has become more important than ever. It’s not just about being succinct; it’s about being powerful and impactful in a limited space.
The secrets of concise communication: practical ways to shorten your texts
Now that we understand why brevity matters, let’s dive into the how. Here are some practical steps you can take to make your business writing more concise and impactful.
1. Know your objective
Every business document, be it an email, report, or proposal, should have a clear objective. What is the main message you want to convey? What action do you want your reader to take? Knowing your objective keeps your writing focused and prevents you from wandering off track.
2. Cut the clutter
Unnecessary words are like weeds in a garden – they obscure the beauty of your flowers (i.e., your key points). Be ruthless in pruning your text. Eliminate redundant words, replace long phrases with single words, and avoid filler words like “basically,” “actually,” and “really.”
For instance, instead of saying, “It is crucially important that we make a decision quickly due to the fact that we are on a tight schedule,” say, “We must decide quickly because we’re on a tight schedule.”
Here are some more examples that will help you cut the clutter:
Eliminate redundant words
- “The engineer considered the second monitor an unneeded luxury.” → “The engineer considered the second monitor a luxury.”
- “I personally would prefer to test the software before buying it.” → “I would prefer to test the software before buying it.”
Remove filler words
- “Basically, the first widget pretty much surpassed the second one in overall performance.” → “The first widget performed better than the second.”
Replace long phrases with single words
- “I received and read the email you sent yesterday about the report you’re writing for the project. I agree it needs a thorough, close edit from someone familiar with your audience” → “I received your email about the project report and agree it needs an expert edit.”
- “When will we have the necessary information to make a decision on which candidate to hire for the position?” → “When will we be able to decide who to hire?”
3. Simplify your language
You’re not writing a literary masterpiece; you’re communicating a business idea. Avoid complex words when simpler ones will do, and use active voice instead of passive voice. Instead of saying, “The meeting was conducted by the manager,” say, “The manager conducted the meeting.” It’s simpler, more direct, and more engaging.
Here are more examples of how to simplify your language:
Avoid complex words
- “The manager conducted a comprehensive examination of the report.” → “The manager thoroughly reviewed the report.”
- “The project was brought to fruition in the stipulated timeframe.” → “The project was completed on time.”
Use active voice
- “A meeting will be arranged by our manager.” → “Our manager will arrange a meeting.”
- “However, it must be remembered that their services could also have positive effects and benefits on ASEAN countries’ economies.” → “Their services could also benefit the economies of ASEAN countries.”
4. Use bullet points and subheadings
Formatting is your friend when it comes to brevity. Bullet points and subheadings break up your text, making it easier for your reader to digest your points. They also allow your reader to scan your document quickly and grasp the key points.
Another form of visual aids that can help you achieve brevity is graphs, charts, and infographics. These can condense complex data or concepts into an easily digestible format, saving the reader time and effort.
Remember, the purpose of concise writing is not just to shorten your text, but to enhance its readability and impact. Formatting tools like bullet points, subheadings, and visual aids can be highly effective in achieving this goal. So, don’t overlook the power of a well-formatted document!
5. Proofread and edit
Never underestimate the power of proofreading and editing. These stages of the writing process are not just about spotting grammatical errors or typos; they’re also crucial opportunities to improve clarity, eliminate redundancies, and enhance the impact of your writing. As the famous quote goes, “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.”
Reading your document out loud can be a helpful strategy for identifying such sentences, as it helps you to hear how your writing sounds to the reader’s “inner ear”.
Check that your writing is structured logically, your thoughts flow seamlessly, and your message is clear and concise. It’s also the stage where you can be ruthless in cutting unnecessary words or information that doesn’t serve your document’s objective.
Ask yourself: Is every sentence necessary? Does every paragraph support the main objective? Could any section be shorter without losing its meaning or impact? Remember, concise writing is often more persuasive and compelling, so don’t be afraid to cut wordiness and aim for brevity.
The bottom line: the potential of concise communication
Mastering the art of concise communication can transform your business writing from good to great. It’s about delivering your message with clarity, power, and respect for the reader’s time. Remember, being concise doesn’t mean losing depth or meaning—it’s about refining your message until only the most essential and impactful points remain.
Brevity in business communication is an ongoing journey, not a one-time event. It requires conscious effort, practice, and a willingness to edit ruthlessly. But the rewards are worth it—a clearer message, a more engaged audience, and more efficient communication.
It might sound counterintuitive, but being concise takes time and effort. It challenges you to truly understand your message and the most effective way to convey it.
Next time you sit down to write a business document, challenge yourself to make your text more concise. Clear your garden of unnecessary words, focus on your objective, simplify your language, format effectively, and proofread diligently. Your readers will thank you for it, and your business communication will become a beacon of clarity and impact in a sea of verbosity. After all, in business, as in life, less can often be more.
Elevate your business English skills with personalized training
We hope this guide empowers you to transform your business writing from good to impactful. However, we understand that crafting concise and effective business documents in English can be challenging, especially if English isn’t your first language.
That’s where we can help. At Talaera, we specialize in personalized Business English training for non-native English professionals. We equip you with the skills and confidence you need to communicate effectively in the global business arena.
Are you ready to take your Business English skills to the next level? Contact us today to learn more about our personalized training programs, tailor-made to meet your unique needs and goals. Start your journey to more powerful, concise, and effective business communication now!
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