We live in an ever changing world that is fast-paced, technologically advanced, interconnected with almost no communication barriers. A wealth of information is thrown at us everyday by newspapers, magazines, websites, emails, sms, phone calls, social networking and what not, but all of us know that it is impossible to remember and act on all the information that we receive and process. So what do we as human beings do about it? How do we react to this? As more and more information flows to us, we become more and more selective. No one has time to read through pages of documents or read lengthy articles on the internet. We only scan through the information, look for the most important points or the highlights and move on!
With people moving from one piece of information to the next so rapidly, it is very difficult to get your message through in the most efficient manner. This is especially a challenge when the message is technical and the audience multi-lingual and multi-generational.
Employing a Lean Writing Style is useful in facing this challenge. Lean writing style aims at eliminating the word ‘flab’ (unnecessary words, punctuation, complex sentences etc) to make writing as clear and succinct as possible. This style of writing keeps the audience in focus and makes use of simple words and short sentences. It is not only about what you write but also about how you write and how you present it (visual style and overall readability) to hold the readers attention.
Proper use of headings, text boxes, line spacing and fonts are all important when we mention about making a document more presentable. Lean writing style focuses on cutting down the unnecessary and keeping your message to the point to keep the audience engaged.
How to make your writing lean?
There are three simple steps that you can follow to get into the habit of lean writing:
1. Eliminate the junk words
Although the conversational style of writing can be very engaging at times but its disadvantage is that it introduces many unnecessary words in your text. Removing these unnecessary words or sentences is the bases of the lean writing style. Start by removing modifiers such as “it seems”, “it may”, “might be”, “could be” etc. Next, eliminate all possible adjectives and adverbs which do not add any meaning or value to your writing. Let us see this example below:
Before: The flashing red motorcycle’s engine growled and the bike raced down the road and turned the corner amazingly quickly.
After: The Ducati snarled around the corner.
2. Eliminate repetition
After you have eliminated all the junk words, search for repetitive expressions like “summer
months” or “three-year-old child.” Also look for repetitive ideas. While reviewing you will come across many sentences that are making the same point and can be deleted without affecting what you want to communicate. Only present your strongest point and make it even stronger.
3. Limit ideas
Don’t work with too many idea’s in the same text. Allow your communication to carry only one strong idea while saving the tangents for your next piece. Doing so will make your writing leaner and more engaging.
What not to clip:
Every powerful piece of text is invariably made up of intense stories, vivid details and relevant examples. Do you best to not clip them. A focused paragraph narrating an intense story is enough to demolish a muscular article that lacks the power of a strong example.
Following these simple steps will propel your writing to the best of its shape and produce results that you and your readers will appreciate.