By: Laurie Haynes
Recall a time when you had to read the same sentence repeatedly to understand what it was telling you. Reading just a few pages of complex theories from our textbooks can seem excruciating. As writers for a public audience, it is important that we make it as easy as possible for our readers to understand what we want to communicate to them. With the help of the PRSA California Chapter New Pros and Ann Wylie, many students had the opportunity to learn how to do communicate writing effectively..
On March 29, the PRSA California Chapter New Pros presented an insightful webinar at 3fold Communications, located in Midtown Sacramento. Ann Wylie led the webinar, “Write for Readability.” She is an author and a leader at her own company, Wylie Communications Inc. Wylie’s expertise in writing and communication is valuable to anyone who does a great deal of writing for the public.
The presentation aimed to teach communicators how to increase readership by making their pieces easier to read. It concentrated on tightening and simplifying their writing to do this. “Be smart enough to write for a fifth-grader,” mentioned Wylie. “Writers must focus on being concise at all levels of their writing.” She discussed how the length of paragraphs, sentences and even words; has an impact on readership. “As you add words, you decrease readership,” she said.
The webinar provided viewers with specific tips on how to write for readability. It highlighted grammatical elements that should be plainly avoided, such as the passive voice and “to be” verbs. Additionally, she encouraged writers to avoid using large words, as they can seem dishonest to readers. When reading a simpler piece, readers tend to actually read, comprehend and retain much more of it than they would a more complex piece.
Ahmed Ortiz led a group discussion following the webinar. He works in the office of Public Affairs and Advocacy at Sacramento State as the editor/web content manager. Much of Ortiz’s career was also spent in sports journalism at The Sacramento Bee, which provided him with valuable insight to share. He shared a handful of articles written by a distinguished sports journalist, Jim Murray. Murray’s writing style is renowned in the world of journalism. Ortiz discussed Murray’s pieces because they are excellent examples of the writing styles discussed in Wylie’s webinar.
Does writing concisely sound difficult? It is a sharp contrast to the academic writing styles that many of us are already familiar with.. But it is an important skill to learn if we want our readers to read more of our writing to understand it and to remember it.
If you were unable to attend the event, view the free “Write for Readability” webinar at the link below. Worth $200 and PRSSA members have the opportunity to view it for free!
It expires April 26, 2016. Be sure to view it soon!
Follow @AnnWylie on Twitter to keep up with the latest news in PR and learn more tips and tricks for writing.