01 Oct 2014

Getting your message across more effectively: Five tips for writing clearer copy about your startup

By Glen

The web can be a sad place at times; a home for websites littered with unclear, incohesive language, and blogposts strewn with dodgy spelling and grammar. Keep these simple tips in mind so that your intended audience actually get what it is you’re trying to communicate to them.

1. Think about your audience

Ask yourself: Who is going to be reading your text? What do they already know about the topic? What are they hoping to find out by reading your text? Are they familiar with the area, or will they need concepts and jargon explained to them?

2. Plan what you want to write

Don’t even think about putting fingertip to keyboard without knowing what you’re going to write and in what order. The questions in #1 will help here. Every single piece of writing should have a clear aim and structure in order to get your message across clearly and avoid information overload.

3. Keep it short and simple

Have you just written a 750 word blog post? Perhaps you didn’t spend enough time on #2. The average time spent browsing the BGV website for example is well under a minute so you need to be concise. Go through with a fine-toothed comb, remove unnecessary information, shorten sentences and paragraphs where possible, and cut out overuse of “big words”. English can be a very complex language, but your audience need a quick and easy read rather than spending time deciphering metaphor and jargon.

4. Think coherence and cohesion

Are the words and concepts strung together in a logical order that’s easy to understand? Have you linked sentences and paragraphs and referred forwards and backwards? You need to guide the reader through the text and not bombard them with disconnected information. A series of blog posts should also interrelate and form a cohesive whole.

5. Check, check, and check again

Even professional writers, copywriters and translators have proofreaders and editors. Do not leave accuracy to chance. At the very, very minimum, run a spellcheck. Better yet, read and edit your text several times. Ideally, get at least one other pair of eyes to check it and make suggestions. Writing short, simple text to begin with, as per #3, will help reduce proofreading time.

Clare Gallagher is one of the BGV mentors, and runs Vivid Meaning, where she helps companies communicate better by providing copywriting and translation services, and language and cross-cultural training.