Pleonasms are expressions that exhibit self-contained redundancy. Here are a few common examples: best ever, close proximity, completely destroyed, end result, false pretenses, may possibly, natural instinct, proceed ahead, and etc. Note that “and etc.” is also a pleonasm.
Posts Tagged ‘brevity’
Words count. The difference between good writing and good speaking is mostly in word selection and sentence structure. English has evolved over hundreds of years so that we can communicate more clearly and use a single meaningful word to describe the same thing that previously required several words. Yet most people recognize only a small percentage of the words in the English language. Most of the words are obscure and rarely needed. However, the larger your vocabulary, the more concise you can be. A poor choice of words may obscure a great thought. Good ideas are not worth much if they are not communicated effectively. Communicating an idea by writing it down is a great way to organize thoughts, analyze alternatives, and reason through its strengths and weaknesses.
The most useful communications tend to be concise. Here is an example that is etched into my permanent memory. I use this simple advice often when mentoring others, especially when they are dealing with professional conflicts.
To connect with an audience: use precise words, provide an accurate picture and avoid details.
First impressions in the hiring process start with a resume (or CV, curriculum vitae). When screening any candidate, be wary of the multiple-page, here-is-everything-I-have-done-since-birth resume. In my experience, there is an inverse correlation between the length of a person’s resume and their accomplishments. People with one-page resumes tend to have accomplished more than people with three-page resumes.
Not everyone is expert at composing graphics and tables and presentations. Not everyone is a good writer. However, we all consider ourselves experts at being part of an audience. We watch TV, listen to the radio, watch movies, read books, listen to conversations, and act as an audience several times a day. What do you like in a presentation? Most people like pictures (not descriptions), brevity (not long-winded stories reliving every detail), facts (more than speculation), provocative challenges (rather than whitewash that offends the fewest people), debate among alternatives (rather than obvious bias), and clarity (rather than ambiguity). As we prepare a presentation, we should ask ourselves whether we would want to listen to it. We are our own best critics, so we should try to evaluate our presentation from the audience’s perspective.
Traveling abroad last week, I ran across an article that introduced me to a contest by Mercer Insights and Smith magazine. Mercer, is a provider of consulting, outsourcing and investments, and Smith Magazine, produces personal, passionate user-generated content. They sponsored an online contest called “Six Words About Work” and will publish a book in the near future that will capture the best contest submissions.
In my last post I summarized Cowboy Ethics, by Owen and Stoecklein, a short book that captures the values that represent the culture of the American West in a concise package of short sentences: (more…)
The most useful advice tends to be concise. Here is an example that I found a few years ago. I was heading out to backpack in Glacier National Park and in a macho-wild-west mood. I was perusing the book section in the gift shop and I found a crisp articulation of values similar to The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz.
The most useful communications tend to be concise. Here is an example that has struck nerves deep in my brain and etched into my permanent memory. I use this advice often when mentoring others, especially when they are dealing with professional conflicts.