Write short — even though it takes you longer

Keyboard cleaned

The story goes that American author and humorist, Mark Twain, ended a letter to a friend this way: “I’m sorry to have written you such a long letter, but I didn’t have time to write you a short one.”

It’s a fine example of wry humour from the master, but also very true. And if you write to influence people, as corporate communicators do, you know how true it is.

Good corporate writing is a process of distillation: you get rid of the impurities until you are left with the essence, and this takes time.

If you doubt this, craft what you believe to be an attention-getting corporate profile of your company or business – but do it in 200-250 words, not 600.

It’s a tough exercise. There is much you want to say about what you do and who you are, but if you ramble you risk losing the reader.

It may take you twice as long to do this, but it improves your chances of being read.

And this is what it’s really all about. You can’t influence people who don’t read what you write. And they will read more of what you have written if you keep it short.

 

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