Get to the point

Is what you are saying important? Are you desperate about making your point? If so, you’re probably using more words than necessary to say it. As writers, we have a natural tendency to wordiness, especially when we’re trying to be emphatic. Here’s four ways to get to the point.

Leaner writing is stronger writing. When you review your own work, consciously look for words, phrases and sentences that you can eliminate without depleting your message.

1. Don’t say the same thing twice

When one word already implies the meaning of the other word, aim for the “delete” key. Check for expressions such as these (and eliminate the words in parentheses):

  • (absolutely) sure
  • (close) proximity
  • (completely) destroyed
  • (end) result
  • (established) fact
  • (exact) opposites
  • (mental) telepathy
  • (new) innovations
  • (old) adage
  • (originally) created
  • (past) experience
  • (regular) weekly meetings
  • (serious) crisis
  • (specific) requirements
  • (still) remains
  • (suddenly) exploded
  • (sworn) affidavits
  • (the reason is) because
  • (unexpected) surprise
  • 6.00 am (in the morning)
  • ask (a question)
  • ATM (machine)
  • came (at a time) when
  • cancel (out)
  • combine (together)
  • commute (back and forth)
  • disappear (from sight)
  • eradicate (completely)
  • goals (and objectives)
  • introduced (a new)
  • ISBN (number)
  • kneel (down)
  • never (at any time)
  • postponed (until later)
  • revert (back)
  • rose (to her feet)

2. Stop clearing your throat before speaking

Expressions we use to help us get started on a sentence should be culled. The worst offender is “It goes without saying that” because we can’t help ourselves: we say it anyway. Perhaps the habit stems from university days, when we were required to write essays of a certain length and sought ways to pad the word count. However, these throat-clearing expressions slow down the reading experience and suffocate your real message.

These bits of deadwood need to be stripped out. When you do so, your message will remain, clear and concise:

  • All things considered
  • As a matter of fact
  • Having said that
  • I might add that
  • In a very real sense
  • It has been found that
  • It is interesting to note that
  • It is of great significance that
  • It is often thought that
  • It should be mentioned that
  • That being said
  • The first point I want to make is that
  • This means that
  • We mustn’t overlook the fact that
  • At the end of the day




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