Posted by Lauren Miller
Your assignment is to write a 1,500-word research paper on a topic of your choice. It’s midnight, you’re tired, you’re at 1,000 words. The paper is due in eight hours. Step one: find a Red Bull and chug it. Step two: dictionary.com and thesaurus.com. Step three: find 400 filler words and phrases. Sleep.
Every college student knows filler words and phrases are an easy ticket to reaching a word requirement on a paper. But in the working world, bosses want tight, concise writing that gets the point across. This means leaving old habits behind and learning how to communicate with clear, succinct messages laced with high-impact words, not air. In a recent Wall Street Journal article about graduate students, Diana Middleton noted that, “While M.B.A. students’ quantitative skills are prized by employers; their writing and presentation skills have been a perennial complaint. Employers and writing coaches say business-school graduates tend to ramble, use pretentious vocabulary or pen too-casual emails.”
Carter Daniel, business communication programs director at Rutgers Business School, said in the same article that, “M.B.A. students often have to unlearn bad behavior, such as using complicated words over simple ones.”
Enter Twitter. Twitter has evolved from a social networking site to a platform used by businesses, PR and marketing professionals, and reporters to connect with their audiences, promote their product or service, source queries, and give the reader a backstage pass to the inner workings of their favorite brands. All of this in 140 characters or less (which can be made more difficult if links are included).
Twitter has added extra discipline to my work as a PR professional and helped me become a better communicator. In honing rambling 20-word sentences to communicate a big idea or insight in 140 characters, I’ve learned how to cut the fluff, choose words wisely, get to the point and better pique my reader’s interest. The same approach is critical in PR when I’m working on a media pitch to connect via email, calling an editor, or drafting a press release. Less can be more. So for whatever the writing or communicating task, think in Tweets for starters. Then soar from there.