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Real Words that Work - Putting energy into your writing

By Patricia Davies, President, Patricia Davies Communications
Putting energy into your writing
Business analysts who develop the ability to write clearly and directly win friends and influence stakeholders by respecting their time and frustration levels. Long and convoluted writing quickly goes to the “when I have time” pile, while crisp, energetic sentences stand out and invite stakeholders to keep reading. 

How would you give the following sentence some lift?

“We are of the view that these estimates will likely be surpassed.”

This example, from a banking industry report, is the written equivalent of the Energizer bunny grinding to a halt. First, it could get to the point a lot faster, as in “We believe” instead of “We are of the view that.” Second, it contains a passive construction—“estimates will likely be surpassed”—that sucks out any forward movement.

Guideline: Passive constructions, or those that back into an action, frequently lead to look-at-me-I’m-impressive kind of writing. And if you aspire to being an Oxford don, that’s fine. However, if you want to project an energetic image and give your readers information as clearly and concisely as possible, go for an active version.

Fix: “We believe these estimates are low.” That’s six words instead of the original 12. A full screen contains about 400 single-spaced words and takes two minutes to read. Cut that length in half and your readers will love you.

Patricia Davies www.patriciadavies.com is an award-winning writer and editor, an Endorsed Education Provider with IIBA, and a regular panelist on the IIBA Communications Webinar (first Tuesday of every month). Have you got a writing question? Please email to IIBAnewsletter@IIBA.org and we’ll try to address it in a future column or Webinar.