Don’t Bore Your Audience with Your Writing

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No one wants their writing to put readers to sleep. And yet, many managers write boring and repetitive e-mails, reports, and letters. To keep your readers engaged, try the following:

  • Use personal pronouns skillfully. Don’t overuse I (try not to begin paragraphs or successive sentences with it), but do lean heavily on we, our, you, and your. Those are friendly words that pull readers in.
  • Use contractions. Let go of your fear of contractions. You may have been taught to avoid phrases like “can’t” and “that’s,” but they counteract stuffiness, a major cause of poor writing.
  • Avoid passive voice. Passive voice results in convoluted, backward-sounding sentences. When possible, give every action an active voice. Don’t write, “The closing documents were prepared by Sue”; instead write, “Sue prepared the closing documents.”

Adapted from “Don’t Anesthetize Your Colleagues with Bad Writing” by Bryan A. Garner.

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