Concise writing is more than a tool for professional writers; it’s a tool for anyone who wants to be successful.
Concise emails are more likely to be read; concise instructions are more likely to be followed; concise project descriptions are more likely to be approved, and concise ideas are more likely to be shared.
So, try out your concise writing skills with this real-world concise writing exercise.
LESSON: Concise Writing Strategies
There are five easy tips you can remember to help improve your writing. Let’s practice these together.
1. Find Unnecessary Phrases
Some phrases add unnecessary text to a sentence. Example phrases might include:
“employees who are full time” (could be “full-time employees”)
- a vacation in Florida (could be “a Florida vacation”)
- a company that provides web design services (could be “a web design company”)
2. Spot Redundancy
Redundancy is saying something twice in one phrase. Common redundancies are:
- “personal opinion”
- “absolutely essential”
- “collaborating together”
Other redundancies might be content specific; for example, in the sentence: “The web meeting will occur online at 10 a.m” the word “online” may be redundant if it’s obvious the web meeting will be online.
3. Delete Unnecessary Intensifiers and Qualifiers
Intensifiers and qualifiers are unnecessary words that don’t add a lot of meaning to a sentence. Examples are words like:
4. Fix Sentences with Expletives
Any sentence that starts with or includes the phrases “There are” or “there is” can be improved. For example:
- “There are many types of sunscreen that protect you from cancer” could be “Many types of sunscreen can protect you from cancer.”
- “There is a new restaurant that just opened on Hillsborough Street” could be “A new restaurant just opened on Hillsborough Street.”
5. Delete Superfluous Phrases and Cliches
- “At the present time,” “for all intents and purposes,” and “in the event that” are just a few of many meaningless phrases that clutter sentences.
- Meanwhile, cliches like “tried and true” or “fall through the cracks” add unnecessary words and may be confusing to international readers.
EXERCISE: Create a LinkedIn Summary
You are not required to create a LinkedIn profile for this assignment. However, we will be practicing concise writing by creating a LinkedIn SUMMARY (which is included on each LinkedIn profile.) (Click here for “What is a LinkedIn Summary?“)
To complete this assignment:
- Read this article: 5 Essential Tips for a KILLER LinkedIn Summary
- Using the concise writing tips explained above, create a 2000-character summary of your skills, experiences, and/or interests.Remember: your audience is LinkedIn users, who may be trying to evaluate your skills. Describe yourself in a way that helps them to PICTURE what you can do. Don’t create a grocery-list type summary of skills; create something interesting to read that summarizes what YOU can do for ME (a LinkedIn reader). You don’t have to follow ALL the tips from the article, but make sure to:
- Create something that’s easy to read. DON’T just have a big paragraph of text.
- Use as much of the 2,000 character space as you can while still being concise. Make sure to focus on the strategies discussed above.
- Describe your skills/experiences in an exciting way. Don’t just list where you’ve worked; tell me what you can DO, what makes you a great possible employee.
- Post your summary in the space below. Remember, no more than 2000 characters!
Feel free to check out these examples for more information:
- Sr. Program Manager @ Intel Corp: http://www.linkedin.com/in/jeffhodgkinson/
- Social Media Expert: http://www.linkedin.com/in/jeanetbathoorn
- Senior PR Executive: http://www.linkedin.com/in/spencermaus
- LinkedIn Employee: http://www.linkedin.com/in/stevepatrizi
- Instructor Example: Sarah Glova’s LinkedIn profile
- See more: 3 Stunningly Good LinkedIn Summaries; LinkedIn’s student sample; Resume Writing Consultant example
RUBRIC WITH GLOBAL FEEDBACK:
- 3/3: Student completed LinkedIn summary, using tips from the article and the sample profiles to create an engaging but concise description of skills, experiences, and expertise.Requirements include:
- Content is organized professionally; text is not presented in one block;
- Information is engaging; student uses tips from exercise description to describe experiences (not just tasks) from previous positions and projects.
- 2/3: Student completed a LinkedIn summary, applying some tips from the article.In order to continue improving, student could:
- Consider better organization, using emphasis, bullets structure, or lines to divide content and highlight main points;
- Continue focusing on engaging but concise text, using tips from the article to engage LinkedIn audience and tips from Unit 1.1 to write concisely.
- 1/3: Student did not meet minimal guidelines or student submitted exercise after the due date.
- 0/3: Student did not complete the assignment.
We completed this assignment in order to practice:
- Applying concise writing (using the concise writing tips of Unit Exercise 1.1)
- Organizing writing (using emphasis, bullets, and short paragraphs)
- Writing experiences, not just job duties (which will relate to Unit Exercise 2.1 and 2.2 in Topic 2)