Elements of Political Communication: General guidelines – Succinctness
Sometimes less is more. Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address (read here by Britton Rea) expressed in 272 words what the speaker before him could not say in two hours. This excellent work came from multiple drafts and careful editing.
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Use an assertive tone and state facts directly. Remove sentence beginnings like “I personally believe that...”. Readers and listeners already know you believe it is true because you're the author. Spending the first half of a sentence establishing the subjectivity of an issue and the second half trying to prove that one position is superior, such as "this is just my opinion, but..." is a self-defeating task. Read and reread your piece and make necessary corrections. Remove redundant phrases, sentences, and paragraphs; nothing is written in stone. Never say in six words would you could in three: Take this sentence.
- A: Preparatory to anything else Mr Bloom brushed off the greater bulk of the shavings and handed Stephen the hat and ashplant and bucked him up generally in orthodox Samaritan fashion, which he very badly needed.
- B: Mr. Bloom helped Stephen up.
- C: Preparatory to anything else, Mr. Bloom helped Stephen up.
- D: Mr. Bloom helped Stephen up in orthodox Samaritan fashion.
- A: While our party has been trying in vain to pass this bill, the opposing side is wasting time and resources on purely political legislation.
- B: Personally, I believe wholeheartedly that the opposing party is destroying this country willy–nilly.
- C: This is just my opinion, but the opposing side is wasting time and resources on purely political legislation.
- D: IMHO, while our party has been trying in vain to pass this bill, the opposing side is wasting time and resources on purely political legislation.