Tips for Better Communication and Grammar
USE THE “YOU” APPROACH: USE “YOU” MORE THAN “I.”
1. Make the point of the sentence its subject rather than the speaker (snow is beautiful – not I think snow is beautiful).
2. See your message through your audience’s eyes and express it in ways that result in their seeing it as:
· Interesting: tell humanizing anecdotes, show the drama, use words that invoke the senses.
· Understandable: be focused and clear, avoid jargon, have 1 main point supported by 3-5 points each with at least 1 supporting point, have 1 thought per paragraph and state it in the paragraph’s first/topic sentence, keep paragraphs to 3-5 sentences, have 1 subject per sentence, and try to keep sentences to 17 words at most.
· Involving: dialog don’t lecture, use questions/simulation.
· Relevant/desirable: show your audience how your ideas benefit them.
· Important: make the purpose compelling and clear.
· Believable: establish your expertise, show both sides, prove your points, and cite your sources.
WRITE TO BE UNDERSTOOD, NOT TO IMPRESS: USE COMMON LANGUAGE, KISS.
USE STRONG VERBS AND ACTIVE VOICE: AVOID “TO BE” (IS, WAS WERE).
MAKE SUBJECT AGREE WITH VERB: DON’T MIX SINGLE AND PLURAL; TRY NOT TO BREAK UP SUBJECT AND VERB.
DON’T MIX UP I AND ME: I IS THE SUBJECT (I GO TO SLEEP); ME IS THE OBJECT (BETWEEN YOU AND ME).
WRITE THE WAY YOU TALK: USE COMFORTABLE, CONVERSATIONAL (BUT APPROPRIATELY PROFESSIONAL) LANGUAGE.
GET IT RIGHT: USE A STYLE MANUAL (SUCH AS SHRUNK/WHITE’S ELEMENTS OF STYLE) AND DICTIONARY SO YOUR SPELLING, PUNCTUATION, AND GRAMMAR ARE CORRECT.
KNOW THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WORDS THAT ARE OFTEN CONFUSED:
1. Affect (verb – to influence: The play affected me so deeply that I cried; noun is a psychological term that is not commonly used) vs. effect (to bring about or accomplish: They effected great change).
2. All together (all of us: All together, now, sing) vs. altogther (entirely, on the whole: This is altogether too important).
3. Bring (move toward: Bring me the library book) vs. take (move away: Take the book back to the library).
4. Its (belonging to: The shoe is in its box) vs. it’s (it is: It’s time to shop for shoes); its’ is not a word.
5. Lay (to place: Lay the book on the table) vs. lie (to recline: The cat lies on the bed all day).
6. Less (modifies singular noun: Less space) vs. fewer (modifies plural noun: Fewer grapefruits).
7. Whose (belonging to whom: Whose umbrella is it) vs. who’s (who has or who is: Who’s getting the umbrella).
8. Accept (agree: I accept your apology) vs. except (exclude: Everyone was there except you).
9. There (a place; Put it there) vs. their (belonging to them: It is their place) vs. they’re (there are or were: They’re coming soon).
10. To (toward: Turn to the right) vs. too (also: Me too) vs. two (one plus one equals two).
CUT ALL REDUNDANT/EXTRA/UNNECESSARY WORDS: TOSS IT (OUT).