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Write Short, Not Shallow: Smart Brevity

Learn more about our new concise writing style, based on the book, Smart Brevity. Don't worry, we'll keep it quick.

Read Time: 2m
Word Count: 512

Would you read what you wrote?

Seriously… if you aren’t the author of whatever you’re reading, do you really take the time to read every word?

More than ever, audiences are reading less and scanning more. So isn’t it time we start writing for how we actually read? It’s called writing with Smart Brevity.

Like persuasive or narrative writing, Smart Brevity is a unique type of writing. While not every person or organization will use it the same way, there are techniques everyone can apply to some degree — depending on the type of content produced.

Smart Brevity can be applied to

  • Articles

  • Social Media

  • Newsletters

  • Emails

  • Meetings

  • Speeches

  • Presentations

How Does Smart Brevity Work?

Smart Brevity is used to accomplish two things:

  1. Cut Down

  2. Call Out

By doing both, you’ll create a more memorable message. The more memorable your message:

  • The easier it is for your audience to act

  • The more attention you’ll get from your audience in the future

A more concise message also shows respect for your audience’s time — meaning next time they need information in a hurry, you’ll be their first stop.

Just remember: the goal is to write short, never shallow.

Cut Down

“Finding the right words or phrases to cut out is usually something that is easier said than done.”

“Cutting word count is easier said than done.” But when done right, Smart Brevity can cut your word count by 30% – 60%!

  • Remove filler words: adverbs, weak words, extraneous words
  • Gut check: is every word, point, or detail essential? If so, is there a simpler way?
  • Use abbreviations and contractions whenever possible
  • Ditch those 3-syllable words for some more ‘everyday’ language
  • 5-sentence paragraphs are out — keep it to 2-3 sentences
  • If listing 3+ items, break them up into 1-line bullets

Calling Out

Stop hiding your headlines and burying your bullets. What are the key takeaways? How far in would someone have to read to get to the most important point? Will your audience know the takeaways if they just skim it?
  • Keep your headline short — 6 words max
  • Start with a strong, one-sentence tease or lede
  • Highlight major statistics or quotes by putting them on their own line
  • Use axioms to label sections and denote value
    • Ex: Big Picture, Why It Matters, What’s Next, What We’re Watching, etc.
  • Include up top how long it will take to read, listen to, or watch your content
Compared to traditional writing, Smart Brevity unlocks the ability to more effectively communicate a memorable message in a fraction of the time. Like anything worthwhile, writing with Smart Brevity takes practice. But speaking from our team’s experience, the end results will more than pay for the time invested.

Wanna talk about Smart Brevity?

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