Write it like you say it

Posted on Feb 9, 2014 in Copywriting & Editing, The Fix

This is one of my cardinal rules of writing—”Write it like you say it.”

It’s okay to sound professional. But ask yourself, “If I was describing this to a friend / customer / colleague, what would I really say?” Then try to approximate it.

One of my biggest turnoffs as a reader is slogging through dry “corporate-style” copy loaded with industry-geared catch phrases and stale cliches. While this kind of copywriting might be trying very hard to be as specific and accurate as possible, you can literally drown the reader. Think of your readers’ investment of time.

To honor your reader:

1. Strip it down. Less is more. Every editor will tell you to strip your sentences down to the essentials.

2. Ditch the Dilbert-speak.  If you read the comic (about long-suffering employees subjected to a boss who spouts endless, trendy business cliches) you know what I’m talking about. Drop the business jargon and get real.

3. Make your point early. Get the most important stuff said early on. Not everyone will stick with your article, blog post, or brochure to the bitter end.

4. Use good grammar. Poor grammar not only annoys and confuses your reader, it reflects poorly on you.

5. Check your spelling. See number 4.