Saturday, 24 November 2018

Are your communications a little bit woolly?

Are they a tad vague? 

Somewhat fuzzy on the details? 

Lacking a certain something?

Imprecise? Indefinite? Unclear?

Take a look at this paragraph:

According to research, quite a lot of people shop frequently. This is more or less the same as it was a few years ago. Nowadays more people tend to shop online, perhaps because it's more convenient. Nevertheless, high street stores are still reporting increased sales at prime times, like Christmas.

The highlighted words and phrases are vague, meaningless and leave the reader with more questions.

What research?
How many people?
How frequently?

You want to be an authority in your field.

If you're talking about your business, industry or specialist subject, you want to inspire confidence and promote your expertise.

It's difficult to achieve that if your communications are woolly, wordy or lacking the attention to detail your audience would expect from an authority.

People need tangible facts and figures.

When information is collated and presented properly, it's helpful. It shows you did your homework and have taken the time to understand what your audience needs to know.

If it's vague or fuzzy, it raises more questions than it answers and reads as though you wrote it off the top of your head. 

Even worse, it could make you seem lazy, non-committal or evasive.

Be specific and precise.

  • If you're referring to research, state the source and include a link to it if you're publishing online
  • Avoid imprecise quantities, like plenty, a bit, a lot and a few — use proper numbers and percentages wherever you can
  • If possible, avoid speculative words, like perhaps, maybe and possibly — try to be more definite
  • Avoid vague words, like stuff, things and etc — specify exactly what you mean.
If you're selling something or running an offer, be clear about exactly what's included. A company I worked with lost out when they failed to specify which brands of crisps were included in their promotion. 

Be current and relevant.

  • In our technological, fast-moving world, things are always changing, so make sure you're citing the most current research, facts and figures available
  • Make sure your communication has a clear point — what is it about and what are your readers going to learn from it?
  • Avoid going off topic or including extraneous details — make sure everything you include in the communication is supporting the point you're trying to make so you set out a clear, logical case.

Be positive and definite.

  • Avoid filler words, like very, reallyrather, quite, fairly, somewhatrelatively and slightly — your copy will sound much more authoritative and certain without them 
  • If you're selling a scenario to a customer, rather than saying If you buy, say When you buy, which is much stronger
  • Wherever possible, replace weak words like could, may, might and should with will or do which are positive and confident.
Note: It's not always possible to use will or do, as we can't always make that guarantee. For example, some outcomes are dependent on criteria beyond our control.

Do you want to sound more expert and authoritative?

If your copy doesn't sound as confident or assertive as you would like it to, I can help.

I am a professional copywriter with more than 18 years' professional writing experience.

My words have made a real difference to the businesses I have worked with — and they could do the same for you.

To find out more, or get in touch about a project, please visit my website.

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