Short and sweet: How to be concise and why it matters

Forty seven seconds – that’s how long you have a reader’s attention on average in today’s world, according to experts. It’s no surprise, really. Look around right now. There is likely a barrage of things that could occupy your time. Think of your mobile phone that holds your favorite podcasts, your TV that’s begging you to fire up Netflix, the washing machine that just signaled it’s finished…I could go on.

With so little time to engage your audience, it’s important we keep our writing short, sweet and to the point. Take the sentence you just read, for example. A more concise way to write it is, “With little time to engage readers, we must keep messaging brief.” The same message gets shared but in fewer words. Keeping word counts low avoids confusion and boredom while saving you and your reader time, and I am ALL about saving time.

Here are a few tips to help you evaluate your writing.

Avoid redundancy.

Removing redundant words creates a more direct sentence. There’s no need to repeat information more than once unless you’re purposefully trying to reiterate a specific message. 

You can’t collaborate on your own, of course, so it’s implied that you did so with another person. Removing “together” creates a shorter sentence that retains its meaning.

Avoid fillers.

Check out recent emails you crafted and you’re likely to find one word you can remove. “That” is a thief. It takes up space and is not needed in the vast majority of writing. When I started removing “that” from my work, I was amazed at how often I used it.

Avoid vague adjectives.

If you love something, select an adjective strong enough to describe it that doesn’t require the word “very” or “really” preceding it. 

Aside from selecting a stronger adjective to describe the subject, rearranging the sentence can result in fewer words in most cases, as well.

Challenge yourself to be short and sweet moving forward. Like I said, it will save you and your reader time, and that my friends, is a beautiful thing. Happy (concise!) writing.