3 Tips to Avoid Using Unnecessary Words
Avoid using unnecessary words. The goal of all marketers is to get their company’s story heard. We know we need to cut through the clutter and deliver a clear, concise message to our buyers.
Yet we often use unnecessary words.
We do this for a variety of reasons. Maybe we don’t want to let someone down. Maybe we feel the need to fill the silence. Or maybe we think those extra words make us sound smarter or help persuade our buyers to do what we want them to do.
Unfortunately, using unnecessary words often has the opposite effect of what we intended.
First, it leads to extra words your audience doesn’t have time for. Adults see 8,000-10,000 messages per day, so they need concise, easy-to-digest language.
Second, in some situations, using unnecessary words can lead to being dishonest. For example, if you’re trying to tell someone “No,” it can be tempting to soften the blow. You might say, “While I’d be happy to have your participation in this meeting, we can’t move the time to accommodate you.”
If you really wouldn’t be happy having that person in the meeting, don’t say it. No one wants, or needs, to be misled. Using clear, concise communication devoid of unnecessary words is the best way to get your story heard.
Using unnecessary words is second nature to many of us. So how do we avoid doing it? Here are 3 tips:
- Make—and use—a Message Map
- Cut out extra words
- Read your message aloud
Make and use a Message Map to avoid using unnecessary words
A Message Map is a tool that tells your story on one page. You always see what to say and say what you mean.
A Message Map helps you keep your story clear, concise, and consistent, so it’s easier for buyers to accept your call to action. Your story doesn’t get bogged down with unnecessary words.
Cut out extra words
We often use all those unnecessary words because we think they sound better. But do they?
Consider this sentence: When I edit for others, I am often able to cut out hundreds of extra words that may sound nice to the writer but simply add no meaning to the message.
Now read this version: When I edit documents, I cut out extra words that add no meaning to the message.
You got the point in both sentences, but the second version is cleaner and easier to read.
Here’s another example. I recently read this sentence: “This is actually a problematic situation.” If we remove the word “actually” the sentence has more impact and doesn’t distract the reader with an unnecessary word.
Not sure how to start removing these words in your writing? Look for words such as “very,” “really,” “just,” “actually,” “simply,” and other adjectives and adverbs.
Read your message aloud
One of the best ways to cut words is to read your copy aloud. Hearing the words out loud makes it clear which ones are unnecessary.
When I read my copy aloud, I notice longer variants of words that I could shorten, such as “ambulate” when I could use “walk” or “utilize” when “use” would do.
It can be difficult for writers and marketers to avoid this problem, especially when we’re in a hurry. Make a Message Map, cut out extra words, and read the copy aloud to avoid unnecessary words.
For assistance with messaging, presentations, and other communications needs, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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