Why use 25 words when five will do?
Legend has it that when Ernest Hemingway was asked to write a full story in six words, he responded, “For Sale: baby shoes, never worn.”
I’m not advocating that everyone be this succinct in daily communications, but a little word economy is a good thing. Writers who churn out verbose material are perplexing. I’m never sure if they’re deliberately padding for the sake of filling space or to impress readers, or if they simply don’t know any better. Business writing is often bloated and unintelligible, as a scan of the wires shows:
Durability Director delivers a highly tailored, customizable and process-oriented environment for efficiently managing durability analyses
TROY, Mich., Dec. 7 /PRNewswire/ — Altair Engineering, a leading global provider of technology and services that empower client innovation and decision-making, announced today that it has launched the HyperWorks Durability Director. Deeply integrated with HyperWorks CAE platform, Durability Director is a highly tailored, end-to-end solution for managing the many different aspects of durability simulation. This includes duty cycle specification, system-level testing, component analysis, fatigue simulation and specialized post-processing.
“Durability analyses span multiple analysis domains. Managing information across these different domains is quite labor intensive and errors are common,” said Rajiv Rampalli, Vice President Software Development, Altair Engineering. “Our goal is to allow engineers to focus on improving their product by eliminating error-prone manual interventions. Durability Director achieves this by providing a single, comprehensive environment to simplify, standardize, customize and automate the durability process.”
Huh? Does anyone know what this says?
Here’s another example:
Unique Platform Delivers Convenient, Easy Way to Launch, Support Handset Protection Program
ATLANTA, Dec. 8 /PRNewswire/ — eSecuritel, the expert in comprehensive handset replacement protection and replacement programs, reports that its web-based Handset Issue Tracking System (HITS(TM)) used by wireless service providers and independent dealers to support a unique insurance program, is enabling these businesses to reduce churn, raise customer satisfaction, and increase monthly revenue while helping customers defray costs related to handset issues.
HITS is an automated real-time technology that streamlines the claim fulfillment process and removes the burden for wireless carriers and independent dealers, making it possible to deliver faster adjudication and replacement services to consumers. Service providers and independent dealers using HITS gain an innovative software platform which combines information tracking, operations management and data analysis capabilities to deliver an automated process for replacing inoperable or lost wireless devices.
Unfortunately, these aren’t isolated examples. Jargon, buzzwords, clichés, “government-speak” and impressive-sounding baloney appear in any number of outlets, including companies’ internal communications. These aren’t necessary and they can alienate readers. If you want people to read your writing, make it clear, concise and easy to understand for a broad audience. And if you find yourself using 25 words when five will do, please stop the madness.