Speak clearly: 5 ways to write for the ear, not the eye

Stuffy, verbose business jargon stinks. There is a better way.

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Before I began working with one of our clients, the communications staff drafted a few messages for their top spokespersons. Their messages were full of seemingly endless sentences that read well enough on paper (sort of), but were almost impossible to speak aloud during a media interview.

To protect the client’s confidentiality, I modified this example and changed the industry. However, the complexity of the message remains intact:

“This multi-lateral agreement, and its steady progress forward, is critical because it will protect Americans who could otherwise be maimed or killed should they consume—knowingly or unknowingly—unapproved imported meats, unpasteurized dairy products, or dangerous unregulated alcoholic beverages.”

Now that you’ve read that message, go back and speak it aloud. Tough to sound natural while delivering those lines, yes?

Since you probably don’t speak that formally in everyday conversation, you shouldn’t attempt to do so during media interviews. Below is an alternate version of that message. Speak it aloud again:

“We need to sign this agreement quickly to protect Americans from unregulated and dangerous meats, dairy products, and alcoholic beverages.”

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