5 tips to improve clarity in your storytelling

In a previous post, I talked about how jargon can erode your clarity. Now, here are 5 tips to protect the strength of your storytelling.

1. Lose the jargon

Jargon makes us lazy as writers. Because it assumes the reader has a familiarity with our subject matter. People have a lot to remember in their lives. If they've forgotten what a piece of jargon means, they may take the time to refresh their memory. More likely, they'll just move on - abandoning you and the point you're trying to make.

2. Keep it short

How concisely can I make my point? Is there a shorter way to say it? Challenging yourself with these questions can help you keep your writing tight and powerful.

3. Limit acronyms

Like jargon, acronyms interrupt the reader's flow causing them to stop and ask, "What does that stand for?" If you're writing about a complicated subject with a complex name, use the full name upon introduction. Then, shorten to improve reader flow upon subsequent mentions (i.e. Attention Deficit Disorder - ADD).

4. Avoid the passive voice

The passive voice is the breeding ground for vagueness. Additionally, it makes your writing physically longer (see point 2. Keep it short). Attribute actions. It will keep your writing tight. For example, this is passive - "The presentation was given by the leader." Look how it shortens and strengthens with the active voice - "The leader gave the presentation."

5. Write like you speak

Does your writing sound like you? It should. It's an extension of you. I don't like to listen to someone who makes me work to understand their point. And inundates me with multiple complex thoughts at the same time. If you're interested in having somebody understand you, do the hard work for them. And keep it conversational.