Your Daily Conciseness #5

Not concise:

Professor Li does research on productivity in the workplace.

Concise:

Professor Li researches workplace productivity.

Comment:

It’s not bad writing to occasionally use something like “does research on” instead of the more concise “researches,” but the latter is better for regular use. I wouldn’t write “does research on,” however, but rather the more elegant “conducts research on.”

Your Daily Conciseness #4

Not concise:

She demonstrated a great deal of empathy for others.

Concise:

She demonstrated remarkable empathy.

Comment:

There’s no need to say “empathy for others,” because empathy is always for others.

And the meaning of the four words “a great deal of” can easily be captured by one strong and specific word like “remarkable.”

Your Daily Conciseness #3

Not concise:

Hundreds of different people attended the conference.

Concise:

Hundreds of people attended the conference.

Comment:

You don’t need to say “hundreds of different people,” because all people are different. If hundreds of the same person attended the conference, it would be scary, to say the least.

Your Daily Conciseness #2

Not concise:

Participants sat in a circular formation during the meeting.

Concise:

Participants sat in a circle during the meeting.

Comment:

I can’t think of a situation in which a “circular formation” can’t be equally effectively described simply as a “circle.” If any readers can think of a context in which it’s better to write “circular formation,” please let me know!

When my students cannot detect the problem in this conciseness example, I ask them to draw a circular formation on the board. The answer comes to them when they realise they’ve drawn a circle.

Your Daily Conciseness #1

Write concisely means eliminating unnecessary words. Concise writing is sharp and elegant and provides a great reading experience.

I’m going to share one wordy sentence with you (almost) every day and show how it can be made more concise. Every time you enjoy Your Daily Conciseness, you’re one step closer to mastering clean academic writing with no unnecessary words.

And, it’s fun! (Really, I mean it!)

Here’s Your Daily Conciseness #1:

Not concise:

Smith draws the conclusion that global warming is a threat to 125,000 species of insects.

Concise:

Smith concludes that global warming threatens 125,000 insect species.

See the difference? I removed six words while preserving the meaning perfectly.

Creating an Engaging Tone for Your Academic Writing

The “tone” of a piece of writing can be described as how readers perceive the personality of the writer.

Whenever we read something, we form impressions about the writer. It’s almost like they are speaking to us, like we can hear them in our minds. And the voice we hear reveals a distinct personality.

Some academic writing is overly serious and unnecessarily complex. Reading it feels like attending a dry lecture by a professor who at best fails to connect with the audience and at worst talks down to the audience, as if the crowd is intellectually inferior.

On the other hand, you want to avoid producing academic writing that is too informal in tone. Academic readers expect you to show that you take your ideas seriously and are working hard to express them as clearly and professionally as possible.

The best tone for academic writing makes readers feel as though they are having a conversation with a highly intelligent person who is deeply knowledgeable about his or her topic and who understands that others may not know as much as they do.

Your writing should be only as complex as it needs to be to express the ideas. You should use a strong and specific vocabulary but avoid words that only a few people understand. And make sure to explain any specialist terms (jargon) or lesser-known references or concepts so all adult readers can follow your argument.

Your goal is not to impress readers with fancy and complex language and style, but rather to dazzle them with how clearly and elegantly you express your complex ideas.

The tone I try to achieve in my writing is warm, patient and conversational, serious but not too serious. I want my readers to perceive me as an intelligent person who loves sharing ideas with them. I want to sound confident and convincing, but also like I would listen to someone who disagreed with me.

Setting the right tone takes practice, but once you make it one of your academic writing goals, you can start working toward expressing yourself in a way that creates the best impression in readers’ minds.

Learning More about the MBA at Poets and Quants

I just found a website called Poets and Quants that has a wealth of information about MBA programs. It’s focused on programs in the United States, but it contains valuable information for those seeking an MBA anywhere. There’s also Poets and Quants for Undergrads, so check that out if you’re at that stage of your educational journey. You can find information, for example, on whether your SAT score will make you a competitive applicant.

At Poets and Quants you can ask questions about MBA admissions and GMAT prep. This article could also be very useful for your GMAT studies. It provides a quick overview of free resources online at Khan Academy that can help you prepare.

I’m finished getting degrees, but exploring Poets and Quants gave me an urge to start applying for some top-notch MBA programs.