Take the Fat out of Your Writing

“So how do you determine whether your writing is clear? Simple: let someone else read it—preferably someone from your target audience. Don’t rely on your own intuition. Because you know what you meant to say, you’ll likely be blind to any ambiguity that has crept in. What you meant to say doesn’t matter—all that matters is what you wrote. Here’s a sentence written by the CEO of a now-defunct Web-development company who relied on his own intuition to affirm its clarity:

Our method provides the flexible integration points required for working on complex system integration projects where effective deployment and engagement with specialized vendors is critical.

“Had he asked others to read this before he published it, perhaps someone would have told him it was a mess of corporate blather. But he didn’t. He knew what he meant, and that was good enough for him.” Kathy HenningTake the Fat out of Your Writing (Harvard Business School: Working Knowledge)

I really like this model — Harvard Business School is publishing articles on career development. The general public gets access to free information, which raises the profile of Harvard Business School, benefiting the existing students and attracting new ones.

Is that company really defunct? A quick Google search turns up the same text on a website called Vertebrae:

Our method provides the flexible integration points required for working on complex system integration projects where effective deployment and engagement with specialized vendors is critical.

A little further exploration on Vertebrae’s site reveals that the author of the “Take the Fat” article is also listed as the media contact for Vertebrae. So I guess that explains it.