Good Writing | The Power of Simplicity

Public relations practitioners constantly aim to make writing more engaging, more precise, and more effective. Most types of writing, such as descriptive or narrative, seek to persuade or entertain. However, PR and news writing is expository, meaning it aims to explain and inform readers about a subject. Because the need for information does not involve frill, expository writing is most effective when kept simple.

Here are a few tips from Jason Lauritsen of Talent Anarchy on keeping your writing as straightforward as possible:

  1. Get clear on your objective.  What are you trying to accomplish, specifically?  And how will you know that you’ve succeeded?
  2. Identify the key components of what you are trying to influence.  This part of the process can be time-consuming.  If you are designing a performance incentive, you need to study the science of human motivation, different incentive structures and types, etc.  Only once you have studied and understand the components are you ready for the final step.
  3. Ask yourself, based on what I’ve learned, what would be the easiest and most straight-forward solution to achieving the objective.  Repeat until you have a list of at least 3 possible solutions.
  4. Chose the simplest of the solutions.  Consider if you can simplify any further.  If you can, do it.
  5. Implement.  Measure impact and if it doesn’t achieve your objective, only then do you introduce a more complex solution.

Lauritsen says “The reason simplicity isn’t common is that it requires hard work.” So prove you work hard and strive for a more straightforward message, because writing is most powerful when it’s simple. <

Thanks to Jason Lauritsen’s article The Power of Simplicity for great tips on simple and effective writing.

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4 comments

  1. I think the best writing is a good blend of both. Think one of the most successful novel of our day, The Alchemist. It is written in the most simple language and style, yet it creates such powerful and beautiful images that moved the greatest thinkers of today. Also increasingly prevalent with the use of Twitter, smart headlines/copywriting can be written with straight-forward simplicity yet be engaging.

  2. “Chose the simplest of the solutions.” seems to be the “solution” of problems in a variety of disciplines! I ‘ve heard it being mentioned a few times as a Production and Management Engineer student. Plus overanalyzing things can lead to thinking paralysis… it sure happens to me! 😛

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