An email crossed my desk just a few weeks ago about using the phrase, “Does that make sense?” during a presentation or on a call. The email was basically stating that certain catch phrases really should be left unsaid. The email read, “…follow the advice of the Strunk and White classic, The Elements of Style: “Use definite, specific, concrete language.”
The Elements of Style is an excellent read – I turned to it frequently as a newbie writer, and I still keep in within arm’s reach today. Reference to this classic reinforces simplicity, when writing and speaking. It reminds us that less is more. I learned very early on to “write like you talk.” When you write a piece of content, read it out loud. If it doesn’t sound like something that would naturally roll off your tongue, it’s not going to read well to your audience. The Elements of Style taught me to eliminate useless fluff from my writing.
For example, “It goes without saying/needless to say …” OK, if it goes without saying then don’t say it. And if you can cut a sentence down from 16 words to 7 and still deliver the same message, do it.
As a speaker, according to Jerry Weissman, a corporate presentations coach, “…you must diligently delete meaningless words and phrases from your speech.”
What I gleaned from this is that the same rules apply to both writing and speaking – get to the point. Just the facts, ma’am. It does make me wonder, though, if you are supposed to write like you talk, should you talk like you write?
In mho, that all depends on whether or not you can write like you talk.
Does that make sense? 😉 I’ve read very different opinions on this. What do you think? Are you showing your own uncertainty by asking “does that make sense?” Are you suggesting your audience is filled with drooling morons who can’t begin to comprehend your complexity? Or are you speaking from the heart with sincere vulnerability?