Why do so many business writers let clutter distract from what they’re saying? Because that’s what happens when people are lazy with their words and punctuation: It takes us longer to understand their meaning. And what’s the real takeaway from that? The writer doesn’t care.
Below are a few real-life examples of people being lazy with their writing, losing clarity in the process, and causing their readers to stumble over the words. Yes, finding examples that show the opposite of good business writing skills is easy to do! They’re all over! But I’ve narrowed it down to only a few for this post…
For the record, these are all taken from public materials such as websites, pdfs, and printed magazines. That means these were all written by professional people, as opposed to being content that showed up in an email from a colleague. And that means these all should have been fixed before going public:
Some of the team’s supervisors and managers pointed to having many new team members and apathy of seasoned ones as a primary contributing factor. (Me: Um, which is the primary contributing factor?? You gave me two.)
Ensuring your workforce stays sharp with the skills to do their jobs and keeping up with the latest trends and technologies, can be a challenge even if you have a sizable team to manage it. (Me: What’s with that comma??)
First thing’s first, the importance of employee development isn’t up for debate. (Me: What’s with that apostrophe?)
For traditional selling, sales professionals relied on lists that were purchased and generally included unqualified data, contact was made using cold calling followed by making an appointment which forced targets into a sales cycle using scripted selling that often involved a lack of listening. (Me: I’m confused. I think someone left out a word or something?)
If you’re a LinkedIn Group moderator with your own tips or advice — and would like to give us some feedback on this and future moderator materials, please click here. (Me: Did someone lose an em dash? Because the one here does not belong!)
Supporting your group members outside of the group is a very effective way to keep them engaged. Here’s a few easy ways you can recognize their accomplishments… (Me: Uh, shouldn’t that be “Here are”?)
Whether you’ve got some garden know-how already under your belt or you’re just getting into gardening, a new book, Book Title Here, is the right book to guide you through the fun, challenging, and satisfying journeys that home gardening will take you. (Me: This was from a magazine ad. Apparently they didn’t have time to read it out loud and realize how stupid it sounded before printing it and sending it to tens of thousands of homes.)
The positive outcomes of building out your professional network are helpful on so many legal playing fields. (Me: Can you say “gibberish”?)
OK, I’ll stop (although you know I could keep going, right?), but here’s the deal: I’m busy. You’re busy. We’re all busy. We don’t have time to re-read something to make sense of it!
That said, with my self-righteous indignation as a reader now clearly expressed, we’re all guilty of this as writers too. We’ve all had mistakes slip past us, dashed off something in a hurry without error-proofing it first, or read something so many times we are blind to the typos. As readers, we feel the pain of that laziness. As writers, we have to make sure we aren’t being “that guy,” writing sloppily and indirectly communicating apathy to our audience. We have to be aware and take care. We have to work at having good business writing skills, and making sure we are always clear.
This kind of sloppy writing is like inviting people over for dinner, but not bothering to clean your house before they arrive. Your guests show up and what do they think? “Um, apparently we aren’t really that important because he/she didn’t bother to pick up before we came.”
What’s the underlying message of your writing? Care and concern for clarity? Or clutter?
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