Concise Writing: The Truth, the Whole Truth, and Nothing But the Truth
When writing, it is important to keep your messages concise. What does concise mean? To the point. As a reader, I don’t need to have to wade through a four line sentence in order to figure out what you mean.
Concise writing is respectful of the reader’s time. If you want me to meet you for lunch, send me an e-mail that says, “Mary, would you like to meet me for lunch today at noon?”
Do not send me an e-mail that says, “Mary, I am getting hungry. I was wondering if you were hungry too. When people are hungry, that is a sign that they need to eat. Since we might both be hungry, I was perhaps wondering if you might care to join me for a meal in the near future?”
The first example tells me exactly what the writer wants, and I don’t have to request further clarification to answer the request.
The second example is long and hard to follow. I refer to this as a blah, blah, blah message. The writer doesn’t just come out and ask the question. Additionally, the writer doesn’t make his or her inquiry clearly. Assuming that I bother to read this entire message, I will have to seek further clarification in order to answer.
When you write an e-mail request, stop and read it before you press send. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Is my request direct and to the point?
- Are there extra words in the request?
- Is there a more direct way to phrase the request?
- Is the reader likely to be annoyed before getting to the heart of the request?
- Can the reader answer the question without having to request clarification?
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