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Write for Readability - Reach People by Keeping Your Messages Simple
 

Write for Readability - Reach People by Keeping Your Messages Simple

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We are bombarded every day with hundreds, if not thousands, of messages screaming for our attention. To reach you, most mainstream publications write between the 6th and 10th grade levels. Why at ...

We are bombarded every day with hundreds, if not thousands, of messages screaming for our attention. To reach you, most mainstream publications write between the 6th and 10th grade levels. Why at these levels? Because they are trying to cut through this clutter of message bombardment. Just like them, you need to effectively engage people by keeping your messages simple.

Simple messages are conversational and easy for others to understand. To help you craft your messages, look to Microsoft® Word. It comes bundled with two easy-to-use tools or tests: The Flesch Reading Ease and The Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level.

Keep in mind that these tests are general guidelines for improving readability. They are not going to rate your vocabulary, sentence structure, layout and design, or composition. As a business storyteller, it is your responsibility to inform, persuade, educate, and inspire with words and stories. These two tools will go a long way in helping you achieve your desired results.

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    Write for Readability - Reach People by Keeping Your Messages Simple Write for Readability - Reach People by Keeping Your Messages Simple Document Transcript

    • The Chief Storyteller ® Turns Your Business Stories into Results Write for Readability Reach People by Keeping Your Messages Simple W e are bombarded every day with hundreds, if not thousands, of messages screaming for our attention. To reach you, most mainstream publications write between the 6th and 10th grade levels. Why at these levels? Because they are trying to cut through this clutter of message bombardment. Just like them, you need to effectively engage people by keeping your messages simple. Simple messages are conversational and easy for others to understand. To help you craft your messages, look to Microsoft® Word. It comes bundled with two easy-to-use tools or tests: The Flesch Reading Ease and The Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level. 1 The Flesch Reading Ease, measures “readability” of your content. Readability is based on average sentence length and syllables per sentence. Average sentence length indicates how difficult it is to make it through each sentence. Average syllables per sentence indicate how difficult the words themselves are to read. Multi-syllabic words are the biggest causes of low readability scores. In general, you should stay between 50 and 70 for your score. The higher the score, the more readable your content is. 2 The Flesch–Kincaid Grade Level, measures “understanding” of your content. Understanding is the minimum United States grade level someone must have graduated from to adequately comprehend your message. A good rule of thumb is to ensure that your written and spoken ® Copyright © 2010. The Chief Storyteller , LLC. All Rights Reserved. Tip Guide 06-015 www.TheChiefStoryteller.com 1 of 5 Email info@thechiefstoryteller.com today to learn more about how to build stronger and more profitable relationships
    • The Chief Storyteller ® Turns Your Business Stories into Results communication pieces test out at or below the 10th grade level. Run the Flesch-Kincaid tools on your written and spoken communication pieces. You will be surprised by the results. Revise and simplify the text that receives a low readability score below 50 or a grade level above 10. Keep in mind that these tests are general guidelines for improving readability. They are not going to rate your vocabulary, sentence structure, layout and design, or composition. As a business storyteller, it is your responsibility to inform, persuade, educate, and inspire with words and stories. These two tools will go a long way in helping you achieve your desired results. Suggestions for Improving Readability and Understanding  Reduce jargon and acronyms  Replace ten dollar words with fifty cent words  Chop long sentences into short ones  Write in the active voice  Use headings and subheadings  Include bullet points, especially with lists  Ensure that you have a good layout and design  Use a highly-readable font that is at least 11 points  Include words, stories, metaphors, examples appropriate to your audience  Ensure that your message is on target with your prospective audience  Obtain feedback from trusted friends and colleagues Setup for Microsoft® Word 2000, XP, 2003 To setup and use the readability statistics, follow these three steps. ® Copyright © 2010. The Chief Storyteller , LLC. All Rights Reserved. Tip Guide 06-015 www.TheChiefStoryteller.com 2 of 5 Email info@thechiefstoryteller.com today to learn more about how to build stronger and more profitable relationships
    • The Chief Storyteller ® Turns Your Business Stories into Results Step 1: Select “Show Readability Statistics”  Select <Tools> from toolbar at the top of your monitor then <Options>  Select <Spelling & Grammar>  Click the "Show readability statistics" small box at the bottom left of the dialog box under Grammar, as indicated by the large blue arrow.  You only have to perform Step 1 once. Step 2: Open Your Document Open your Word document (e.g., resume, research paper, sales brochure, member newsletter, blog entry, etc.), type your content, or copy/paste the text from your presentation, website, or other non Microsoft Word source. Step 3: Use the Spelling and Grammar Function  Highlight the text you would like to check  Select <Tools> from the main menu bar at the top of your monitor  Spell check with <Spelling and Grammar> from the drop down menu  The Readability Statistics are displayed after completing your spell check. ® Copyright © 2010. The Chief Storyteller , LLC. All Rights Reserved. Tip Guide 06-015 www.TheChiefStoryteller.com 3 of 5 Email info@thechiefstoryteller.com today to learn more about how to build stronger and more profitable relationships
    • The Chief Storyteller ® Turns Your Business Stories into Results By way of example, let’s use the International Astronomical Union’s (IAU) definition of a plutoid. In 2006 the IAU decided to formalize the definition of a “planet.” In June of 2008 it released the new official definition of a plutoid, which referred to the former “planet” Pluto. “Plutoids are celestial bodies in orbit around the sun at a distance greater than that of Neptune that have sufficient mass for their self- gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that they assume a hydrostatic equilibrium (near-spherical) shape, and that have not cleared the neighborhood around their orbit.” Before looking at the results of the readability statics in the box below, what are your guesses for the two test results? Author Robert Roy Britt from Space.com makes it very easy to understand. Plutoids are "small round things beyond Neptune that orbit the sun and have lots of rocky neighbors." Run the tests on this one sentence. The results show the Flesch Reading Ease increasing to 79 and the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level dropping to the 6th grade. ® Copyright © 2010. The Chief Storyteller , LLC. All Rights Reserved. Tip Guide 06-015 www.TheChiefStoryteller.com 4 of 5 Email info@thechiefstoryteller.com today to learn more about how to build stronger and more profitable relationships
    • The Chief Storyteller ® Turns Your Business Stories into Results Consider Adding these Tip Guides to Your Library □ Words & Phrases to Avoid for Conversations 1 (Tip Guide 06-003) □ How to Design and Deliver a Compelling Elevator Speech: Tips 1 through 10 (Tip Guide 01-044) □ Make a Great First Impression: Conversation Starters for New Networkers (Tip Guide 02-002) □ Chess Grand Master: Deliberately Develop a Target Relationship Plan (TRP) (Tip Guide 02-012) About The Chief Storyteller ® We turn your business stories into results. Business stories are messages you share verbally, in print, and online. Your answer to “What Do You Do?” (Elevator Speech), presentations, brochures, proposals, position papers, website, and everything in between are all examples. We develop and implement high impact business storytelling and strategic messaging programs. These programs help you achieve the revenue/outreach/development results you want. Charles Schwab, CDC, and the American Diabetes Association have trusted us to help tell their stories. To sign up for our free newsletter, visit: www.TheChiefStoryteller.com/cc Visit our blog for tips, insights, and conversations on various business storytelling topics: www.ChiefStoryteller.com Contact The Chief Storyteller ® info@thechiefstoryteller.com or +1 (301) 718 - 8368 Not for resale, give-away, display, or duplication. Not to be published in whole Cost $ 9.97 or in part without prior written permission from The Chief Storyteller ®, LLC. ® Copyright © 2010. The Chief Storyteller , LLC. All Rights Reserved. Tip Guide 06-015 www.TheChiefStoryteller.com 5 of 5 Email info@thechiefstoryteller.com today to learn more about how to build stronger and more profitable relationships