5 ways to Cut Through the Clutter

Make your messages easier to read, understand

“The problem with communication is the illusion that it has been accomplished.”
— George Bernard Shaw

Shaw was right. After all, publishing, posting and pressing Send isn’t communicating. (Although they often create the illusion of communication.)

To really communicate, we need to ensure that people 1) pay attention to; 2) understand; 3) remember; and 4) act on our messages. Too often, clutter gets in the way.

Here are six ways to make every piece you write easier to read and understand — a sneak peek from my upcoming Cut Through the Clutter Master Class:

It's a tattoo. Not a dermatological graphic.

1. Start Making Sense More than 80 years of readability research tells us that word length and familiarity are the top predictors of clarity. One way to get the gobbledygook out: Hit an average of no more than five characters a word.

US Literacy

2. Be sure they can read you now More than half of your audience members read at the below-basic level, according to the latest international literacy test. Step 1 for clarity: Convince reviewers and approvers to let you write clear messages that reach readers where they really are.

Take the Numb Out of Numbers: Make statistics understandable and interesting

3. Stop making readers’ eyes glaze over “Great clots of numbers dropped into a story with a steam shovel create a wall of abstraction,” writes author William Blundell. No kidding! One way to tear down that wall: Use no more than three numbers — that’s numerals, dates and spelled-out numbers — per paragraph.

Hit the right reading level

4. Hit the right reading level More than 130 years of readability research — from Lucius Adelno Sherman’s sentence length studies in the 1880s to yesterday’s big-data analysis on what reading level works best on Facebook — shows that the easier your message is to read, the more people will read it. Draw more readers: Hit 60 to 70 on the Flesch Test.

StoryToolz - 7 readability indexes - Know how your message stacks up

5. Know how your message stacks up Run your message through StoryToolz to see how you score on 34 readability metrics. In class, we’ll look at targets for each metric and techniques for reaching those targets. Use this cool, free tool to measure, monitor and manage readability.

Cut Through the Clutter - Clear writing workshop on April 17-18, in New York

6. Measurably increase readability Get my full system for cutting clutter — 459 slides worth of tools, targets and techniques in all! — at my only clear-writing master class this year. Past attendees have increased readability by 99.4%, 105.81%, 164.57% and more. How much clearer could your writing be?

Save $100 when you book by March 17.

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