K.I.S.S.: Keep It Simple, Stupid!
What’s being sold is not insurance, computer supplies, jewelry, automobiles or trips to exotic lands.
Instead we are selling the reader on continuing on to the next word, next sentence, next paragraph and next page, all the way to the end.
I am personally terrified of boring or confusing my readers. When writers go off-message, self-indulgently show off with florid words that need looking up, employ horrendously long sentences and indecipherable syntax (the kind of crap found frequently in academia), they have no respect for the reader’s time.
This is especially true on the Internet, where the writer’s message is one mouse click away from oblivion.
I invite you to feel the disgust of the UK’s greatest living direct marketer, Drayton Bird, long-time associate of David Ogilvy:
So I read about a seminar in “power talking” and “communication skills” with great interest―especially when it said that 80% of people fail at work because they don’t “relate well” to other people ...“a clear case of failed communication.”
Well, the seminar was cheap, the course leader is practically a genius―“multi skilled as an Occupational Psychologist, Executive Mentor, Presenter and Counsellor”―and the subject is highly relevant.
But the copy put me off. As far as I or anyone else who cares for the English language might be concerned it was indeed a case of failed communication. It had more clichés and jargon in it than a politician’s speech.
I was promised “user-friendly, high-level skills” and “solution-focused communication techniques.” There was obsessive use of expressions based on the word “impact”―“impacts on,” “impactful,” “high-impact” and “positive impact.” And naturally that shop-soiled word "engage" popped up (why not "intrigue" or "interest"?)
If that's how people who teach communication write, it explains a lot of the mindless tripe we all have to plough though―in documents, on the Internet, in meetings: everywhere.