In an earlier post (see here), we shared with you the words of Dr. Nick Morgan. He cautions against using weasel words when you are public speaking, and explains just how detrimental these terms can be for your message and overall reputation. Just as one needs to be aware of their spoken words, a person should also be careful when sending a note or an email. After all, as we have pointed out before (see here), studies show that a whopping 50% of all emails are misunderstood!
And so, it’s worth highlighting the recent article penned by Bryan A. Garner, a leading authority on writing, usage, grammar, and style, and the author of books such as the HBR Guide to Better Business Writing and the best-selling reference work Garner’s Modern American Usage. Garner recently published a blog post entitled, A Bizspeak Blacklist, where he stresses that in our busy world, it is more important than ever to write simply.
Much of his advice is relevant to our readership as well.
Keep in mind: people are reading tons of emails today. If your email is asking the recipient to consider making a donation, attend a class, or to come over to your house for a Friday night meal—you want to make sure that your email sounds like a person—not an institution, or someone who is spewing buzzwords.
As Garner puts it, “Writing plainly means expressing ideas as straightforwardly as you can — without sacrificing meaning or tone. Think of it as bringing your written voice into line with your spoken voice. Bizspeak may seem like a convenient shorthand, but it suggests to readers that you’re on autopilot, thoughtlessly using boilerplate phrases that they’ve heard over and over. Brief, readable documents, by contrast, show care and thought — and earn people’s attention.”
Below is a handy chart to print out. It will take practice, but if you refer to this chart, you will be on your way to eradicating these thoughtless phrases from your emails.
BONUS: Want to further improve your email writing? Listen to this free podcast with Bryan A. Garner, compliments of the the HBR Ideacast.