Mastering Succinct Writing: Clear Communication Tips
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 10 min read


  1. What is Succinct Writing?
  2. How to Avoid Unnecessary Details
  3. How to Write Clear Sentences
  4. Why Brevity Matters in Communication
  5. Tips for Effective Editing
  6. How to Use Active Voice
  7. Why Choosing Precise Words is Important
  8. How to Avoid Jargon and Slang
  9. How to Use Punctuation for Clarity
  10. How to Practice Succinct Writing

Everyone loves a good storyteller—someone who can weave words like threads in a tapestry, creating rich, vivid images. But what if we told you that mastering the art of being concise is just as important, if not more so, in clear communication? Whether you are writing an email, giving a presentation, or creating content, the ability to express your thoughts clearly and succinctly is a game-changer. It's all about finding the right balance between providing enough detail to engage your readers and keeping it short and sweet to maintain their interest. So, let's dive in and explore the definition of succinct and how you can master this essential skill.

What is Succinct Writing?

Succinct writing, by definition, is the ability to convey information in a clear and concise manner. It's the art of saying exactly what needs to be said—nothing more, nothing less. The definition of succinct comes from the Latin word "succinctus," which means to tuck up. Just as you would tuck up your shirt to avoid tripping, succinct writing tucks up unnecessary details to avoid reader confusion.

  • Brief and clear: The first characteristic of succinct writing is that it's brief and clear. It's not about using big, fancy words, but rather choosing simple, direct language that your reader will easily understand.
  • Specific: Succinct writing is also specific. It doesn't beat around the bush or use vague language. Instead, it gets to the point and states it clearly.
  • Free of fluff: Lastly, succinct writing is free of fluff. It doesn't use filler words or unnecessary details. Every word has a purpose, and every sentence contributes to the overall message.

For instance, instead of writing "I am of the opinion that it's a good idea for us to have a brainstorming meeting about our next project," you can say, "Let's brainstorm for our next project." The second sentence is a prime example of succinct writing—it's straightforward, clear, and gets the message across without any unnecessary words.

Now that you know the definition of succinct writing, let's delve into how to avoid unnecessary details, write clear sentences, and use active voice for effective communication. With these tools, you'll be well on your way to mastering succinct writing. Stay with me as we navigate through these clear communication tips together!

How to Avoid Unnecessary Details

Details can be a double-edged sword. On one hand, they make our writing richer and more interesting. On the other hand, too many details can clutter up your message and make it harder for the reader to understand. So, how do you strike the right balance? Here are some simple strategies:

  • Know your key message: Before you start writing, ask yourself: what's the one thing I want my reader to understand or remember? Once you've identified your key message, use it as a compass to guide your writing. If a detail doesn't support your key message, leave it out.
  • Write like you're running out of ink: Imagine you only have a tiny bit of ink left in your pen. You'll need to make every word count. This mindset can help you be more selective about the details you include and more focused in your writing.
  • Use the "so what?" test: After writing a sentence or paragraph, ask yourself, "so what?" If you can't answer that question, or if the answer doesn't relate to your key message, you've probably included unnecessary details.

Remember the definition of succinct we discussed earlier? It's about tucking up the unnecessary details to make your message clearer and more impactful. So next time you find your writing getting a little too wordy, remember to tuck, tuck, tuck!

Now, knowing how to avoid unnecessary details is just one part of the equation. Let's move on to the next step: writing clear sentences.

How to Write Clear Sentences

Remember our definition of succinct? It's all about being clear and concise. And to do that, you need to master the art of writing clear sentences. Clear sentences are the building blocks of succinct writing. When your sentences are clear, your message is clear. It sounds simple, but it's easier said than done. Here are a few strategies to help you along the way:

  • Keep it simple: Avoid overly complex sentences. The more clauses and commas you have, the harder it is for your reader to follow your train of thought. Stick to one idea per sentence, and keep your sentences short.
  • Be specific: Vague language can muddy your message. Use specific words and phrases to convey your meaning. For example, instead of writing "I saw a bird", write "I saw a blue jay in my backyard". The second sentence paints a clearer picture and is more engaging for the reader.
  • Go straight to the point: Don't bury your main point in the middle of your sentence. Put it at the beginning or the end where it's more likely to stand out.

Writing clear sentences can be challenging, but it's a skill that will serve you well in all areas of communication—not just writing. So, keep practicing and watch your writing become clearer, sharper, and more succinct. And remember: when it comes to writing, less can often be more. Let's move on to our next topic: why brevity matters in communication.

Why Brevity Matters in Communication

Ever sat through a meeting that could have been an email? Or read an article that felt like it was going in circles? In our fast-paced world, time is precious. That's where brevity—another key element in our definition of succinct—comes into play.

Brevity in communication is about saying what you need to say in as few words as possible. But why does it matter so much? Here are a few reasons:

  • Respect for the reader's time: By keeping your message brief and to the point, you show respect for your reader's time. You're saying, "I value your time, and I won't waste it with unnecessary fluff."
  • Clearer communication: Brevity helps to avoid confusion. By focusing on what's important, you make your message easier to understand.
  • Better engagement: Let's face it—long blocks of text can be daunting. Short, crisp messages are more likely to engage your reader and hold their attention.

Yes, brevity matters. But achieving it isn't about chopping your message down to the bare minimum. It's about making every word count. In the next section, we'll look at how effective editing can help you do just that.

Tips for Effective Editing

Editing is like pruning a rose bush: You cut away the excess to reveal the beauty of the blooms. In writing, effective editing helps to streamline your message, which is an important part of the definition of succinct. Here are some tips to help you sharpen your editing skills:

  • Give it time: After you've written your piece, put it aside for a while. Coming back to it with fresh eyes can make it easier to spot areas for improvement.
  • Read it aloud: This can help you identify awkward phrasing, run-on sentences, or points where your writing might lack clarity.
  • Look for redundancies: Are you repeating the same point in different ways? If so, choose the strongest expression of that point and cut the rest.
  • Use short sentences and paragraphs: As we mentioned earlier, shorter blocks of text are easier to read and comprehend. Chop up long sentences and paragraphs to make your writing more digestible.

Remember, editing is not about losing your voice or message. It's about making sure your voice is heard clearly and your message is understood. So don't fear the red pen—embrace it! It's your tool for creating succinct, clear, and effective communication.

How to Use Active Voice

Imagine you're watching a soccer game. Which sounds more exciting: "The goal was scored by the player," or "The player scored a goal"? The second sentence, right? That's because it's in the active voice. The subject—the player—is doing the action. That's the essence and definition of succinct writing.

Using the active voice makes your writing more direct, dynamic, and easier to understand. Here are some pointers to help you shift from passive to active voice:

  • Identify the subject: Start by figuring out who or what is performing the action. In our soccer example, the subject is 'the player'.
  • Make the subject the star: Once you've identified the subject, make sure it's doing the action. Say "the cat chased the mouse" instead of "the mouse was chased by the cat".
  • Be wary of 'by': Often, 'by' is a telltale sign of passive voice. For example, "The cake was eaten by John" is passive, while "John ate the cake" is active.

Remember, active voice is like a direct conversation with your reader. It's engaging, clear, and concise. It's the heart of succinct writing. So, don't be passive—get active!

Why Choosing Precise Words is Important

Remember playing 'telephone' as a kid? One person whispers a phrase to the next, and by the time it reaches the last person, it's a completely different sentence! This happens because of imprecise language — words that aren't clear or specific. If you're aiming for the definition of succinct writing, choosing precise words is a vital skill.

Precise words allow you to communicate your thoughts clearly and concisely, reducing the chance of misunderstanding. They help your reader grasp your point quickly and easily. Here's how you can choose more precise words:

  • Swap vague words for specific ones: Instead of saying "a lot of people", say "200 people". Instead of "soon", say "in two weeks".
  • Avoid filler words: Words like 'very', 'really', 'quite', often don’t add much value. Instead of saying "very big", say "enormous".
  • Choose strong verbs: Instead of "make an improvement", say "improve". Instead of "carry out an analysis", say "analyze".

Choosing precise words is like painting a picture with your writing. The more specific your words, the more vivid the image. So, next time you write, think of yourself as an artist. A word artist, that is. Now go create a masterpiece!

How to Avoid Jargon and Slang

Ever listened to a conversation and felt like it's in another language? That's probably because you stumbled upon jargon or slang. While they can be useful within specific circles, they can be a roadblock in clear communication for others. If the definition of succinct writing is what you're after, avoiding jargon and slang is a step you can't skip.

Let's break it down:

  • Jargon is a type of language used by a particular profession or group and is difficult for others to understand. Think of terms like 'SEO', 'B2B', 'CTA', often thrown around in the digital marketing world.
  • Slang is a very informal language or specific words used by a particular group of people. You'll find slang in text messages or social media posts, like 'LOL', 'BRB', 'OMG', and so on.

While these might make sense in specific contexts, they can be confusing to the uninitiated. Here's how to avoid them:

  1. Know your audience: If your readers are new to a topic, avoid using jargon. If you're writing for a professional audience familiar with the terminology, jargon can be acceptable.
  2. Define terms: If you must use jargon, explain it. The first time you use a term, provide a simple definition for your readers.
  3. Use simple language: Instead of using slang, opt for straightforward words. For instance, instead of 'OMG', you could say 'Oh my goodness'.

Remember, the goal of succinct writing is clear and concise communication. Jargon and slang can sometimes muddy the waters. So, keep it simple and straight to the point. Because, as they say, simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.

How to Use Punctuation for Clarity

Imagine trying to read a book with no periods, commas, or question marks. It sounds pretty chaotic, right? That's because punctuation is the traffic signal of writing—it tells us when to stop, pause, or proceed. To master the definition of succinct, you must learn how to use punctuation correctly for clarity. Here's how:

  1. Periods: These are your full stops, ending a thought or an idea. They help to keep your sentences short and easy to digest. Remember, one idea per sentence.
  2. Commas: Commas are your pause points. They help to separate items in a list or add a brief pause in longer sentences. Just don't overuse them; too many can make your writing choppy and confusing.
  3. Colons and Semicolons: Colons introduce a list or a related idea. Semicolons link two closely related thoughts in one sentence; they're useful for variety and preventing your writing from sounding monotonous.
  4. Dash: Dashes — like this one — can provide extra information or emphasis in a sentence. They're like a dramatic pause in a movie, adding a bit of suspense or surprise.

As you can see, punctuation doesn't just affect readability—it impacts the flow and tone of your writing. So, the next time you write, remember to mind your Ps and Qs...and commas, periods, colons, and dashes, too!

How to Practice Succinct Writing

Succinct writing is a skill that improves with practice. But how exactly do you practice it? Here are some practical steps for honing your ability to write clearly and concisely. Remember, the definition of succinct is brevity and being precise, so keep it in mind as you go through these steps:

  1. Write Daily: The more you write, the better you get. It's as simple as that. It doesn't have to be a novel or a blog post—it could be an email, a journal entry, or a social media update. Just write!
  2. Trim the Fat: After writing, go back and look for words you can cut out. Are there any unnecessary adjectives or adverbs? Long explanations that could be shortened? Remember, less is more.
  3. Revise for Clarity: Make sure every sentence communicates a clear idea. If it's not clear to you, it won't be clear to the reader. Don't be afraid to rewrite sentences, paragraphs, or entire sections if necessary.
  4. Read Out Loud: This is a great way to catch awkward phrasing or run-on sentences. If you stumble while reading it, so will your readers.
  5. Get Feedback: Have someone else read your writing. They might catch things you missed and provide valuable insights on where you can improve.

Does it seem daunting? Don't worry! Remember, practice makes perfect. Start small, be patient with yourself, and you'll see improvement over time. Before you know it, you'll be a master of succinct writing!

If you're looking to further improve your communication skills and apply them to a different medium, consider exploring the 'Documentary Filmmaking' workshop by Jessy Moussallem. This workshop will not only help you master the art of storytelling through film but also emphasize the importance of clear and succinct communication in creating impactful documentaries.