What does the word concise mean?
You want to convey your message without extraneous words; get to the point.
Why do we want to be concise?
- People’s attention spans are not as long as they used to be. They are less likely to stick around for your entire message if that message takes too long to express.
- FOR BROADCAST: Lengthy scripts slow down the pace of the newscast. Pacing is how the show moves. A faster pace makes the show feel alive. A slower pace does the opposite. Recall when someone told you a story with all of the irrelevant details. You likely thought, “Please get to the point.” Viewers/listeners are the same way.
- FOR BROADCAST: Lengthy scripts affect the anchor’s energy.
How do we do it?
- When you have gotten your message across, stop writing.
- Ask yourself if the audience really needs to know the detail you are contemplating including. What does it add to the story?
- Ask yourself how much of the background of a follow up story you really need to include.
- Cut! Copy-edit your material with your backspace key.
- Be the viewer. Ask yourself what you would want to know.
- Know your audience. If it’s a group of scientists who likely want more detail, maybe you want to go a bit longer. If it’s a television news audience, condense as much as possible. People only have so much time to give you in their busy lives.
- Cut unnecessary words like “to be” verbs and “that.” Eliminate “or not” when using “whether or not” and “if or not”. Many times the word “on” is unnecessary as well.
- Cut redundant words or unnecessary modifiers:
- Completely destroyed
- Completely shutdown
- Armed gunman
- Dead body
- Pickup truck
- ATM machine
- Final outcome
- Unexpected surprise
- Tornado touchdown
- May possibly
- Vigorously audition every word. Does it deserve to be in your copy?
- Use active voice.