When we were taught to write in school, more was better. Our goal was to demonstrate everything we’d learned (or at least, read on SparkNotes) and the best way to do that was to write long, detailed essays that included plenty of advanced words.
It’s time we learned to write less.
It’s never easy to break a habit, but if you’re going to be an effective business writer, it needs to be done. You’re no longer writing to show off what you know. Now, you’re writing to inform, to persuade, or to drive action. That’s an entirely different skill.
Don’t just take my word for it. Here are four compelling reasons to write less:
1. Attention spans are short
Your readers are busy. The longer and more complex your writing is, the less likely they are to give it their full attention, or even to read it at all. It’s far better to have a few paragraphs that are read and understood than a few pages sitting unread in someone’s inbox.
2. It forces you to focus on what’s important
It’s always tempting to include more detail. After all, why risk leaving out something that might be relevant? Unfortunately, this means your most important content often gets lost among the clutter. Writing less forces you to focus on what you really want to say, resulting in a clearer, more persuasive message.
3. It gives your writing weight
Talk too much, and you might find people stop paying attention. It’s no different with writing. We’re judged by our readers on the average quality of what we write, not on the best bits. If you can write short, clear content that gets straight to the point, you’ll get a reputation as someone who’s worth paying attention to.
4. Your readers will thank you
Remember the golden rule: put your reader first. Nobody likes to feel as if their time is being wasted, and nobody likes hunting through a wall of text to find what they’re looking for. Put in the effort to focus your writing on what your readers need to know, and they’ll return the favour by giving you their time and listening to what you have to say.