The new year's a time for fresh starts and bold resolutions. And what better way to revamp yourself than by sharpening your writing skills? Clear communication is essential in all aspects of life, from work emails to social media posts to that heartfelt letter to Grandma. But achieving clarity can be tricky, especially when common culprits like jargon, passive voice, and complex sentence structures lurk in the shadows.

Jargon: the uninvited guest at the clarity party

Jargon's the uninvited guest who crashes your writing party, spewing technical terms and insider lingo that leaves everyone else bewildered. It might sound impressive, but it often acts as a barrier, excluding readers who aren't fluent in your specific jargon dialect.

Here's how to tackle it:

  • Simplify: Replace jargon with plain English. Instead of "utilise," say "use." Instead of "incentivize," say "encourage." Aim for words your readers understand naturally.
  • Define: If a technical term's unavoidable, define it clearly the first time you use it. Don't assume everyone knows what "synergistic paradigm" means!
  • Examples are your friends: Use examples and analogies to illustrate complex concepts. This helps readers make connections and grasp the meaning even if this is the first time they have encountered the jargon.

Use our buzzword and cliche detector to reduce industry jargon.

Passive voice: the shy narrator who needs to speak up

Passive voice puts the action on the back burner and the doer in the shadows. It makes sentences sound wishy-washy and can leave readers wondering who (or what) is doing the thing.

Waking up the passive voice:

  • Flip the script: Change passive sentences to active voice. Instead of "The report was written by me," say "I wrote the report." This makes your writing more direct and engaging.
  • Identify the doer: Always include the subject who's acting. Don't leave your readers guessing!
  • Strong verbs are your allies: Use active verbs that pack a punch. Instead of "was completed," say "finished," "achieved," or "conquered."

Here’s more on how to convert the passive voice to the active.

Sentence structures: the labyrinth of confusion

Overly complex sentences can be like navigating a maze blindfolded. They twist and turn, throwing in clauses and phrases like breadcrumbs, hoping you'll find your way out. But often, you just end up feeling lost and frustrated.

Unravelling the sentence labyrinth:

  • Keep it short and sweet: Aim for shorter sentences that are easier to digest. Break down long sentences into smaller, more manageable chunks.
  • Vary your sentence structure: Don't get stuck in a rut of monotonous sentence patterns. Mix things up with short, punchy sentences, longer ones for emphasis, and even the occasional question to keep your readers engaged.
  • Read it aloud: Sometimes, the best way to identify clunky sentences is to hear them spoken. Read your writing aloud and listen for awkward phrasing or tongue twisters.

Here’s more on how to reduce verbosity.

Remember, clear writing is like a well-lit path. It guides your readers effortlessly to your intended destination, leaving them informed, engaged, and maybe even awed by your newfound clarity. So ditch the jargon, wake up the passive voice, and untangle those complex sentences. Let 2024 be the year your writing shines!

Bonus tip: Embrace the power of editing! Don't be afraid to ruthlessly cut unnecessary words, tighten your sentences, and polish your prose until it gleams. A little revision can go a long way in achieving crystal-clear communication. Try Readable for free and see how a few guided tweaks can make a real difference.

Happy writing, and happy new year!

Laura Kelly

Laura is a freelance writer and worked at Readable for a number of years. Laura is well-versed in optimising content for readability and Readable's suite of tools. She aims to write guides that help you make the most out of Readable.