1. Use real words.
Is your website or blog littered with revolutionary, value-added, impactful, cutting-edge, best-of-breed, mission-critical words designed to leverage and synergize the current paradigm? Words like that are the chemical additives of business writing: Maybe one or two used sparingly won’t matter much, but too many will poison your content. Forget the buzzwords, and say what you really mean.
2. Avoid frankenwords, weblish and words pretending to be something they’re not.
Frankenwords are words weirdly bolted together to create stiff, bizarre versions of themselves, typically ending in -ize or -ism or -istic (incentivize, bucketize). Avoid nouns masquerading as verbs (workshopping, journaling) and verbs masquerading as nouns (learnings). And definitely avoid weblish like k, thx, and ur welcome.
3. Use your active voice.
The passive voice isn’t technically incorrect, but it tends to sound stilted and awkward. You’ll vastly improve your writing by making your verbs active. Active sounds zippier and more alive.
So, instead of “The video was edited by a guy named Hibachi,” try “A guy named Hibachi edited the video.” A simple but surprisingly effective change.
4. Ditch weakling verbs for more descriptive ones.
Bold action words will breathe life into your writing. Avoid generic phrases; use expressive language that paints a vivid picture in the reader’s mind.
Instead of “It might seem like a good idea, but it’s probably not in good taste to put a QR code on a tombstone,” try “It might seem like a good idea, but it’s probably not in good taste to etch a QR code on your loved one’s tombstone.”
5. Lose adverbs, except when they enhance meaning.
Most writers use adverbs gratuitously, tossing them in when they add nothing. In the previous sentence, the adverb gratuitously is necessary, because it tells you how most writers use adverbs. Without it, the sentence reads “Most writers use adverbs.” Well, duh.
6. Use clichés only once in a blue moon.
Sometimes, clichés can offer a quick reference or shorthand (on the same page). But too many can make you sound just like everyone else– which is exactly the opposite of what you are trying to achieve.
7. Trim your words.
Say things simply, with empathy for the reader. The use of more words does not really help you sound more smart. On the contrary, it contributes to content obesity. Lol. So, instead of “in order to,” say “to.” Instead of “ways by which,” use “ways.” Trim “despite the fact that” to “although.”
8. Break some grammar rules.
It’s OK to start a sentence with “And,” “But” or “Because.” It’s OK to write a single-word sentence. And a one-sentence paragraph? Why not? We can safely break some rules we learned in school and when doing so, it adds energy and momentum to our writing. Grammar does matter. But readability, personality and emphasis matter, too!