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When we speak, we generally speak ‘forwards’: ‘the boy ran up the hill’. It’s natural, simple and effective. So why do so many people change how they communicate the second they get a pen or a keyboard in their hands? Why do they go all Yoda? Suddenly it’s all ‘up the hill the boy ran’.

To paraphrase Obi Wan, ‘these are not the words you are looking for’. Even in a galaxy far, far away, if you want to get your point across it helps to write like you speak. ‘Our plans will be implemented.’ What’s wrong with ‘we will implement our plans’? Or how about ‘your key needs will be focused on’. Just write ‘we’ll focus on your key needs’? The results will be confirmed’. Surely you mean ‘we’ll confirm the results’?

This particular writing bugbear is known as the backloaded sentence. Instead of putting the important active word up front – ‘focus’, ‘implement’, ‘confirm’ – it’s left to dangle at the end. There is no reason for this other than making your writing more complicated than it needs to be, and making it passive. It doesn’t make you sound smarter or make your words more important. It makes you sound like a small, wrinkly Jedi master on the planet Dagobah.

Another writing tic that seems to infiltrate business writing and no other is the dreaded ‘in the organisation of’, or ‘in the implementation of’, or ‘in the management of’. The words ‘organising’, ‘implementing’ and ‘managing’ are quite sufficient. Making things more complicated, you are.

So, the next time you write something that sounds more like Yoda than you, think again. Then take your light sabre to it immediately.

Good writing is a force to be reckoned with.

May the force be with you.

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