Does your job require you to write? Maybe you write instruction manuals, e-learning content, job aids, training materials, press releases, newsletter articles, or blog entries. If you do write, I’m sure that you strive to be as clear and concise as possible. My job requires me to do a lot of writing, and I know that’s always my goal. “Legalese” and the kind of jargon that’s only understood by select groups of people drive me crazy. I think it’s important for writing to be easy to understand and accessible to everyone.
That’s why I particularly enjoyed a recent Training + Development article by Cammy Bean called “Six Tips for Writing Better E-Learning Scripts.” Although she focuses specifically on e-learning, I think her ideas can be applied to many different types of written communication. Here are the tips that I found particularly helpful:
- Make it conversational – Don’t write in a formal, impersonal way. Instead, write like you’re having a conversation with another person. Be human and approachable. When in doubt, read what you’ve written out loud. Does it sound natural? Can you imagine actually talking to another person this way? If so, that’s great! If not, you might want to rework it a bit.
- Avoid word overload – Only include information that’s truly important. Delete sentences and paragraphs that are extraneous. Don’t overwhelm people with a lot of unnecessary detail. Try to be as concise as you can.
- Don’t talk down to people – Remember that you’re writing for inquisitive, intelligent people. If you need people to do a certain thing, don’t just tell them to do it. Explain why it’s necessary or important.
- Keep it flowing – Try to avoid combining disjointed ideas or paragraphs. Ideally, each sentence should flow logically from one to the next. When ideas flow naturally and build off of each other, writing is easier for people to read and understand.
Bean, C. (2014). Six tips for writing better e-learning scripts. Training + Development, 68(6), 34-39.