How to make your writing crystal clear

Glasses with crystals

What’s the no. 1 purpose of communication?

Clarity.

Sure, what we write needs to be engaging, informative – entertaining. But if our audience can’t understand what we’re saying, our message and purpose are lost.

How can we do this?

1. Avoid the curse of knowledge.

This happens when we assume our audience has the same level of expertise as us. Unless we’re speaking to qualified or knowledgeable peers, the chances are our audience doesn’t.

Solution: Put yourself in their shoes, and write for them.

2. Explain technical terms.

Ideally, no text should cloud meaning with slang, jargon or managementspeak. But sometimes we do have to use terms of art: our field or industry’s own specialist lexicon.

Solution: If you’re addressing a lay audience, be sure to define those terms, at source.

Don’t leave readers wondering what you’re talking about, or force them to keep swinging back and forth to the front or back of your book to a glossary to find what they need. Doing this breaks their concentration and distracts them.

3. Run a ‘sanity check’.

It can help to ask someone else to cast their eye over our writing, just to ensure it reads well and makes sense.

Writing can be an intense process: it’s so easy to get caught up with what we’re saying, that sometimes we can overlook how we’re saying it.

Solution: Ask a friend or colleague to look over your copy. A fresh eye can really help to get into your readers’ perspective.

What handy tips do you use to achieve clarity in your writing?

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