Reading through various blogs each day, sometimes you’ll come across posts that are never going to get the attention they deserve. Sometimes you’ll find a really well-researched piece, written by a professional who clearly knows his/her field, but it’s not getting any traction purely because of the way it’s written – the sentences are slowed by unnecessary adverbs, points are weakened by laboured language. They’re often written like academic papers – very informative and valuable, but hard to get through, and alot of people just move on, click away to other posts and writers. These pieces often share great insights and deserve to be read, but are held up by minor style and structural issues that impact fluidity of the piece, making it harder to read. Obviously, you want to make your content as compelling as possible, and there are some simple ways to improve that don’t require wholesale re-education of your writing process, little changes that can make a big difference to the reading experience.
Next time you write a blog post, try applying some of these to your work, test whether they might improve the flow of your content.
1. Remove all mentions of the word ‘just’. There are, of course, some examples where ‘just’ is still necessary, but more often than not, ‘just’ just holds up your sentence. When writing a post you want to be authoritative, state what you believe. ‘It just won’t work’. ‘It just doesn’t add up’. Anytime you write the word ‘just’, go back and review the sentence and see if it might read better without it. If you can say the same thing in fewer words, you should, that remains true in all writing. And often ‘just’ just ends up being unnecessary.
2.Remove weakening ‘I’ statements. ‘I think…’, ‘I doubt…’ You’re the author of the piece, anything you say is your opinion. There’s really no need to state this again in your article.
‘I think a better way to do things is…’
You have to stand by your words and state them as fact. If you don’t believe they are fact, don’t say them, but if you’ve done your research and you’re making a point, that statement will be more powerful if you take out the self attribution.
‘A better way to do things is…’
Much stronger, that’s a voice readers will pay attention to. ‘I’ statements can be very strong in some contexts, so you shouldn’t remove them wholesale, but it is worth reviewing each to test if the sentence reads stronger without it.
3.Use definitive language. This somewhat reinforces the first two points, but it’s crucial that your statements be definitive when necessary. In my previous job, I remember seeing an e-mail where a salesperson had asked someone from the operations team whether a job could be done by a certain time. The response from operations was ‘Should be fine.’ ‘Should be’ is not good enough – the sales team are dealing with clients, they need to know whether this will or won’t happen, they shouldn’t have to waste time sending a clarifying e-mail because of a weak response. ‘I think that’s right’ bears significantly different meaning to ‘That’s right’. The second one gives you the answer, that’s how it is, we know what we’re dealing with and we can act based on that. You need to be definitive in your language and give clear, authoritative answers. If you’re reviewing your work and you find uncertain statements, clarify them or cut them out.
4.Be mindful of the over-use of adverbs like quickly, rapidly, slowly, etc. Sometimes these are already implied by the surrounding context and only serve to slow up your sentences. ‘He ran quickly’ – well, yeah, he ran, I’d assume he’d do so ‘quickly’. ‘It fell rapidly’. Yeah, gravity’ll do that. Sometimes that secondary adverb is not adding anything to the sentence and can be taken out to better maintain the flow of the piece.
These rules are not prescriptive, there are, of course, places where they won’t apply, but it’s worth keeping them in mind as you go, testing your sentence structures and statements and looking for ways to make your work stronger, more bold. Using definitive language will help establish your authority on a topic and make it a more compelling reader experience, improving your content quality and performance overall.
Now read this alternate last sentence and see if you agree:
These rules are not prescriptive, there are, of course, places where they don’t apply, but I think it’s worth keeping them in mind as you go, testing your sentence structures and statements and looking for ways to make your work stronger, more bold. I believe using definitive language can help establish your authority on a topic and make it a more compelling reader experience, improving your content quality and performance overall.
Makes a difference, right?