Little room for big words.

“Write like you speak” seems like simple advice, but it’s not always taken. For example:

“Approximately 70% of all jobs are obtained through networking. However, when I counsel individuals and groups, I find most people dedicate the majority of their time to searching online for job postings. Statistics show that less than 20% of all jobs are obtained by responding to job postings. The effective job seeker allocates the appropriate time to each activity. I think most people know deep down inside the value of networking but try to avoid it or limit it as much as possible.”

“Approximately”? “obtained”? “counsel”? “individuals and groups”? “allocates”?

Whoa now.

Who uses language like this? Who uses these words in casual conversation?

Whoever “counsels individuals and groups to allocate an approximate amount of the income they have obtained” may also read the dictionary for fun. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that…)

Surely, many of us would “recommend that people budget some of their earnings.”

Same message, but the second sentence is easier and faster to read.

Word choice is critical to how the reader experiences your writing. Lots of long words may be stimulating, or it may make reading a chore. Do you want to make your reader work, or do you want to make it as easy as possible to understand your message? (Hint: the average attention span will soon be measured in nanoseconds.)

I don’t meant to imply that you must write to the lowest common denominator. Just think about who you’re trying to reach. Pick your words with care. If that adds to your writer’s block, go crazy with the multi-syllabic vocabulary in the first draft. Just take a little extra time and consideration with editing.