Storytelling Tip: Get to the Point
Today’s tip from JerryBrownPR’s Tips for Telling Your Story on the Experience Pros Radio Show
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By Jerry Brown, APR
Public Relations Counsel
Today’s tip: Get to the point.
We live in a fast-paced soundbite world. And we’re trying to reach people who have lots of other messages competing for their attention.
Take too long to tell your story and your audience may not stick around to hear it.
Here are four tips for getting to the point.
Tip #1: Start with your main point
Don’t bury your lead, as we called it when I was a reporter. Tell us right up front what you want us to know and why we should care. Take too long to make your point and the rest of us are less likely to get your point.
Tip #2: Use shorter sentences and shorter words
Shorter sentences and shorter words make your writing easier to read. Easier to understand. And easier to remember.
Some statistics from the American Press Institute (API): When sentences average eight words, readers comprehend 100 percent of what’s said. At 15 words per sentence, comprehension drops 10 percent. At 19 words, that’s just four more words per sentence, it drops another 10 percent. And at 28 words per sentence readers will comprehend only half of what you say.
One trick for making your sentences shorter: Turn commas into periods. One place to look: Sentences with “and” or “but.” You can often put a period before the “and” or “but” and turn one sentence into two. You’ve said the same thing. But your message has more impact.
API also recommends using shorter words. One- and two-syllable words are easier to read, easier to understand and easier to remember. So, use shorter words when you can. Do instead of accomplish, for example. Buy instead of purchase. About instead of approximately. Google “use shorter words” for more examples.
Does that mean you should use only short sentences and short words? No. That’s boring. But your message will lose impact if you use a lot of long sentences and long words.
Tip #3: Delete redundant words
Say 12 cars instead of a total of 12 cars. Noon or midnight instead of 12 noon or 12 midnight. Say to instead of in order to. Google “eliminate redundant words” for more examples.
Tip #4: Edit what you write
Editing is important. Edit what you write. Better yet get a colleague or friend to edit your writing. Or hire a good editor if you can afford to. And be ruthless when editing your copy. Don’t fall in love with your writing. Fall in love with telling your story effectively.
That’s my two cents’ worth. What’s yours?
Jerry Brown, APR, is a public relations professional and former journalist. He specializes in helping clients develop the content they need to tell their stories. He also helps them develop strategies for getting their stories heard, understood and remembered. And he provides media training and presentation coaching for clients who need to tell their stories to reporters or in front of an audience. 303-594-8016 | jerry@JerryBrownPR.com.
Listen to Jerry’s Tips for Telling Your Story every Tuesday at 11:05 a.m., Mountain Time, on the Experience Pros radio show on KLZ 560AM in Denver or at www.560thesource.com on the Internet.