5 simple tips to write more concisely

Plus one BONUS

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One of the most underrated skills in communication:


Effective writing is concise.

Unfortunately, so much writing is long, complex and confusing.

If you struggled with writing concisely, here are 5 simple tips to help:

1. Write one idea per sentence

This may sound obvious, but it’s not.

Writing becomes bloated when you try to cram in multiple ideas at once.

The easiest way to write more concisely is to write one idea per sentence.

Pay attention to your writing. How many points does each sentence include?

If there are multiple, break them up into separate simple sentences.

Your reader will thank you.

2. The Feynman Technique

The Feynman Technique is a framework based on Nobel Prize physicist Richard Feynman.

It has multiple layers, but we can summarize it like this: explain it to me like I’m 12.

If you’re explaining a topic to a 12-year-old, you will use simple language.

You won’t use jargon, and you won’t try to impress the 12-year-old with how “smart” you sound.

This technique works wonders for making your writing concise.

3. Draft in bullet points

One of my favorite writing techniques is to draft in bullet points.

It reduces the pressure of starting, because my brain doesn’t feel like it’s “writing,” but rather outlining.

Just as importantly, it eliminates the “fat” from my writing.

Bullet points aren’t complete sentences. You’re usually writing only the essential words.

That, by default, is concise writing.

Remove the bullet points, add a few more words for polish, and you’re done.

4. BLUF method

BLUF stands for Bottom Line Up Front.

This is a popular communication technique used in the military and taught to organizations.

It’s effective for both verbal and written communication.

When you use BLUF, you give the most important point first — the “bottom line.”

Then you add supporting context only as necessary.

Most writing — especially in business — is the opposite.

It drowns in unnecessary context and detail while your reader wonders, “What’s the point of this?”

BLUF may not be the best technique if you’re doing creative writing or telling a story.

But if you want to be concise, it’s a wonderful fool.

5. The One Takeaway Test

In Monday’s issue, I wrote about the One Takeaway Test.

It’s a great tool to both simplify your writing and make it more concise.

Here’s the gist: in anything you write, make sure there is only key takeaway.

If you have more than one, it’s probably too complex and need to cut it down.

Read more about this framework here.

BONUS: Word counts

If all else fails, you can try an old-fashioned word count.

Set a strict word count limit and challenge yourself to make your point while staying under the word count.

Example: Limit your LinkedIn posts to 100 words for one week.

Action Item

Pick one of these techniques and put it into practice this week.

The only way to hone the skill of writing concisely is to practice it.

Hope these techniques help.

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