It’s always tempting, whether you’re writing a white paper or preparing a bid proposal, to give in to the “more-is-better” philosophy. That approach assumes that if a 1,000-word proposal is good, a 2,000-word one is better and a 5,000-word one is way better.
Savvy customers and prospects, however, can tell the difference between a report that says just what it has to say … and one that’s stuffed with a whole lot of nothing. Worse still, a proposal filled with empty word “calories” is more likely to turn off a would-be client than to win one over. So, once you’ve completed the first draft of whatever it is you’re writing, take a red pen to it and eliminate the following:
- “Very this” and “very that.” Saying you’re “proficient at managing a multilingual customer base” tells readers you can handle business in multiple languages. Saying you’re “very proficient” doesn’t really add anything: “proficient” already means you’re good at something. In most cases, you can easily cut the “very” and leave the meaning the same.
- An overabundance of adjectives. Writing that your data-processing capabilities are “fast” and “efficient” begs the question, “How fast, and how efficient?” You’d be better off dispensing with the adjectives and going straight to some supporting data — for example, “We can process four billion transactions per hour.”
- Long strings of words where one word will do. A frequently occurring example of this is “in order to.” Why write, “We will implement this solution in order to help Company X …” when “We will implement this solution to help Company X” says it just as well?
- Passive phrasing. Using the passive instead of the active tense not only adds unnecessary verbiage but also weakens your message. After all, which sentence sounds more authoritative to you: “We will install a computer system that meets your requirements” or “A computer system meeting the requirements outlined by you will be installed by us”?
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