Boring Bobby Verybiglongwords and 8 tips for better communication

Some business writers are desperate to demonstrate their intelligence. And their vast vocabulary.

You’ll know the type.

Let’s call them Bobby Verybiglongwords.

Bobby does indeed possess a ginormous vocabulary. And might be rather well read.

But that doesn’t mean anyone wants to read Bobby’s meanderings. Or listen to what Bobby has to say.

Bobby’s abstruse words, tortured sentences and tendency to over-complicate make comprehension….challenging.

You’ll know what I’m talking about if you’ve read many impact reports or annual reports.

Stuffed to the gills with jargon, some of them.

Readers probably understand it. But do they enjoy it, and actually read the report?

Not if it’s as convoluted as Spaghetti Junction.

Plenty of business authors suffer from clever-itis.

Many business leaders and social entrepreneurs do too.

Some deliberately over-complicate to assert “ownership” or even to exclude.

In your internal and external communication, in your marketing, in your sales letters, in your bids for contracts, in your pitches to journalists:

Are you concise, and to the point?

Is your meaning clear?

Are you using over-complicated language?

I tend to think that folk who really understand their subject can explain it simply and clearly.

Richard Feynman, for example. He made it a joy to read about theoretical physics.

The business and social enterprise media I enjoy includes magazines, newspapers, books, podcasts and radio shows.

That’s probably true for you too.

I’ll read or listen in order to learn.

But there are millions more books, radio shows, podcasts or articles than you or I could possibly read or hear in our lifetime.

So I’ll choose to read something that engages and interests me.

And that doesn’t waste my time or effort.

This is no argument against a nuanced debate.

Nor against immersion in a great story.

Nor am I saying people don’t have long attention spans.

They do.

But don’t waste their time trying to show off.

In your business communication you’re not trying to impress. You’re trying to inform, educate, influence, persuade, or sell.

And if you’re putting together a communications strategy, writing an article, creating sales copy or coming up with other business communications:

1. Get the red pen out. Pare it down.
2. Don’t use a long word if a short one does the job.
3. Avoid the passive tense whenever you can.
4. Look up Orwell’s advice for writing clearly (he makes the above three points, with others).
5. Don’t be pompous.
6. Tell the truth. Avoid embellishments.
7. Remember the power of “storytelling plus spreadsheets.” Emotion plus evidence.

Oh, and 8. Consider asking a professional for help. Don’t know where to start? Contact me to book a 15 minute chat (no charge, no sales, no obligation) about your priorities.

What next?

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