Write to Communicate, Not to Impress
Updated: Jun 22
A writing client shared the following draft of a thank you email he planned to send to a prospective employer:
“Having thought intently about our conversation last week, I’d very much like to share my gratitude for the fact that you took the time to sit with me.”
To sound sophisticated, he filled his writing with unnecessary words and weird syntax. By doing so, he was failing to communicate clearly. Perhaps worse, he was invalidating himself as possible new talent.
If someone must WORK to understand you, there’s a good chance they’ll ignore or skim the message. Worse, they’ll likely question your ability. Your communication has not only failed. It has backfired.
TIP → Ask yourself: “What do I want to say?” Now say it. Out loud.
My client landed on “Thank you for speaking with me.” The sentiment was immediate, honest and concise. He was then able to elaborate on a detail of the conversation that he found compelling. Message communicated! Even better, the follow-up was a positive extension of his interview.
It doesn’t matter if you’re writing to a client, a potential investor or employer, a college admissions officer, an agent, or anyone else, don’t make your reader WORK to understand you.
Your thoughts matter. Write them so that they’re heard. Now that will be impressive.
Quick Pro Tips
1. What do I want to say? Be concise and say it.
2. What do I want my reader to think at the end?
3. What/who is each sentence about? Put the answer at the sentence beginning.
4. Does every word serve a clear and specific purpose? No? Cut.