Speaking to writing

Writing the way we speak is a good start. It tends to make our copy appropriate and chatty.

Most of us wisely take out the ums and the errs. But we do lots of other things when we speak that do not translate well into writing and these should be deleted too. Just like the ums and errs, they mostly happen because we are trying to think of the next thing to say while we are still saying the last thing.

Cliche and stock phrases give us plenty of time to think when we speak but they tend to deaden the language when we write. This start: What’s in a name? It’s all change at… is fine in speech. Two cliches while we work out what we’re going to say. It will wash over a listener. But a reader has to process all these words and they really don’t mean anything.

Waffle does the same job when we speak and has the same problem when we write. Get straight to the point.

Strings of verbs lengthen the communication process giving us time to think when we speak but the get the way when we write. So meet rather than hold a meeting, fund rather than put funds in place, protect rather than being able to meet the short term need to protect.

Lists of three things that mean more or less the same is another trick speakers unconsciously use. The costs, resources and capacities needed to tackle the problem might be better written as the resources needed to tackle the problem.