As professionals in sport, most of the written communication we do is meant to influence. Whether it is to explain the rationale behind a rule change, a new development strategy for the federation, or the motivations behind new event format, we write with the objective of bringing people closer to our point of view.
But in order to do that, most of us feel that we must write in a formal way. Because we think that very structured, longer, more complicated explanations will help people have a deeper understanding of our ideas and, therefore, recognise that we are indeed experts who must be right.
This is wrong. Today people are overwhelmed with information and activity. Writing in a more informal way will simplify your structure, making you more understandable and therefore more likely to be convincing.
One way to write in a more informal way is to stop introducing. The old advice was always to introduce our message with intro paragraphs and previews. Try not to do that. Don’t announce, just say. Just make sure your sequence of thoughts is logical and stay on message. Let anything go that doesn’t emphasize your main points.
You’ll also be more informal if you simplify your language. Bigger, more sophisticated words tend to make sentences more complicated to articulate. Always prefer a good metaphor than a complex explanation. Don’t be afraid to use contractions and personal pronouns. You can always go back to revise later, but writing the first draft this way will help.
Writing in a clear way requires time. So next time, plan ahead. As Mark Twain once wrote to a friend: “Sorry for the long letter, I didn’t have time to write a short one”.
|We are the sports practice of global advisory firm Burson Cohn & Wolfe. We provide strategy and communication advice for sports clients around the world. For more information: www.bcw-sport.com|