On the Salutary Efficacy of Conciseness
Lets talk short words.
Or, let's look at how much we need long words, which, in my view, is not much at all.
In fact, for what you and I do, I'd say short words beat long words any day of the week.
See, your job is quite hard. You have to raise funds to help those in need. Or to change laws. Or change minds … or change the world.
In other words, you do big things. And you need help. So you want to ask for that help in a way that moves people to give it.
To do that, you need to be direct. You need to be as clear as glass. You need to touch their hearts.
And shorts words do that best. Here's why:
- People get them. They don't have to guess what you mean. There's a lot less room for if, ands or buts.
- People trust them. When you keep it short, they feel that you'll tell it like it is. And when they trust the words, they trust you.
- Short words are bold. They have punch. They strike a chord.
- Short words make you think more, so your reader doesn't have to. It's not easy to put big ideas into small words. There's not as much space to skirt the issue. It's hard to be vague. That's more work for you; it's a great gift to those who read you, though.
So tell a sad tale to your reader. Get him or her fired up with what the bad guys did. Scare them with threats of what will come to pass if they don't help. And tell them what greats things will come if they do.
But don't wear them out.
Keeping it short won't make your job a cinch. I tried to write this all with words of one syllable, and only came close.
Willis Turner believes great writing has the power to change minds, save lives, and make people want to dance and sing. Willis is the creative director at Huntsinger & Jeffer. He worked as a lead writer and creative director in the traditional advertising world for more than 15 years before making the switch to fundraising 20 years ago. In his work with nonprofit organizations and associations, he has written thousands of appeals, renewals and acquisition communications for every medium. He creates direct-response campaigns, and collateral communications materials that get attention, tell powerful stories and persuade people to take action or make a donation.