Your choice of words in every communication is a key element of your style and effectiveness. Many of us evolve from children who say exactly what they mean to educated adults who feel compelled to demonstrate their advanced education by using strange words and complex structure to beat around the bush. Aristotle provided some great advice on this topic. Paraphrased: (more…)
Posts Tagged ‘Verbosity’
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.
One of the most brilliant people I know had the worst adverb overuse problem I’ve encountered. He was a “basically” addict. He used basically in about 70% of his sentences, sometimes twice in the same sentence. As with most adverb overusers, he was especially prone to this habit when he was somewhat nervous, speaking in front of a large audience. His most memorable line was, “Basically, we have to get back to basics.” This sort of speaking and writing problem does not indicate a lack of intelligence or experience. It is simply a bad habit that even the smartest, most articulate among us can pick up without realizing it.
One of the most common speaking and writing problems is the overuse of empty adverbs. I call them impotent adverbs because that is what they are. Impotent is defined by Dictionary.com as follows: (more…)
Most of us speak and write verbosely, using as many fluffy, multi-syllabic words as we can think of when we only need one simple, straightforward word. Here are a few examples of long-windedness that you hear every day. (more…)
In almost every discipline there is a common theme for improvement: simplification. The simplest communications are usually the best communications. Perhaps this is more of an American problem: Our culture too often views more as better. This is simply not true in communicating. William Zinsser said it best in his classic book, On Writing Well: (more…)