1 Minute Writer – Make your Emails More Concise

I’ve been helping a financial advisor and her staff improve their writing skills, specifically for emails.

Many admitted struggling with conciseness – their emails were too wordy, yet they didn’t want to lose meaning by editing heavily. Others needed guidance on structuring emails effectively.

I sensed they wanted practical tips to refine their writing. So before diving into using tools like Outlook, I focused first on developing a concise writing “cheat sheet” they could reference.

Benefits of Writing Exercises

If English isn’t your first language, or you struggled with grammar in school, it’s easy to feel self-conscious about your writing skills.

So, how to address this?

I’d suggest that instead of trying to ‘write better English’, which is a huge ask, zero in on specific, more granular, areas. This jigsaw approach, where you master one area then the next, should lead to greater results in the long run.

Aim to omit any unnecessary words as these can confuse the reader. Strive for tight, economical writing that promotes clearer communications.

How to be More Concise

Here are some of the writing tips we used to focus on conciseness, along with wrong and right examples:

1. Avoid redundant phrases

Wrong: “It’s an added bonus in addition to the other features.”

Right: “It’s a bonus feature.”

2. Replace wordy expressions with concise alternatives

Wrong: “Due to the fact that the software is easy to use, it will save you a lot of time.”

Right: “The user-friendly software will save you time.”

3. Omit unnecessary modifiers

Wrong: “The new version of Word has really very advanced formatting capabilities.”

Right: “The new Word version has advanced formatting capabilities.”

4. Omit unnecessary qualifiers:

Wrong: “I am personally of the opinion that we really must expedite this process.”

Right: “We must expedite this process.”

Qualifiers like “personally,” “really,” “kind of,” and “sort of” rarely add value and can be omitted.

5. Use active voice

Wrong: “The report was written by the team.” Right: “The team wrote the report.”

The active voice is more direct and engaging.

Passive voice constructions like “was written” can make sentences dull and obscure who is performing the action.

By following these guidelines, the team had a framework to start fine-tuning their writing.

3 Exercises to be a More Concise Writer

To reinforce the writing tips, I provided some writing exercises.

Incorporating practical exercises helps solidify the concepts covered. This helps the material ‘stick’.

1. Word Count Reduction Exercise

Take a section of your writing and aim to reduce the word count by a specific percentage (e.g., 25%).

Focus on eliminating unnecessary words, phrases, and redundancies while preserving the core meaning and clarity of the content.

To reduce the wordcount, revise the text in multiple passes.

For example, in the first pass, make long words shorter

Next, condense ideas.

Then remove filler and so on.

By taking this iterative approach, you’ll reduce the number of words and sentences without undermining the integrity of the text.


Original Sentence:

“In order to facilitate better collaboration and communication among team members, it is imperative that we implement a comprehensive strategy aimed at streamlining processes and removing unnecessary barriers to information sharing.”

Concise Version:

“To improve collaboration, streamline processes and remove barriers to communication.”

2. Sentence Simplification Exercise

Choose a complex or lengthy sentence from your writing and rewrite it in a simpler and more straightforward manner.

Break down complex ideas into smaller, more digestible parts and strive for simple, direct language.


Original Sentence: “Despite the fact that the project faced numerous challenges and setbacks throughout its duration, the team persevered and successfully delivered the final product on time and within budget.”

Simplified Version: “Despite challenges, the team delivered the project on time and within budget.”

You can also try the 25-Word Challenge.

This is where you try to rewrite or summarize longer passages from your writing in 25 words or fewer. This forces you to identify and communicate only the key ideas.

3. Eliminate Redundancies Exercise:

Identify redundancies or repetitive phrases in your text, then eliminate them to make it more concise. Look for words or phrases that convey the same meaning or provide unnecessary repetition.


Original Sentence: “The new initiative will result in a reduction in costs and expenses.”

Concise Version: “The new initiative will reduce costs.”

The Finer Points

“Make every word tell.” – Roy Peter Clark. That is, each word should contribute to the overall message.

Ask yourself: If I delete this word or phrase, will the meaning of the text suffer? If it doesn’t, you can probably remove it.

The key is focused on practice. Apply these exercises frequently to sample passages and your own drafts.

  • Improved Clarity: Eliminate unnecessary words and simplify complex sentences to communicate your message effectively.
  • Enhanced Impact: Concise writing makes your writing more memorable and engaging.
  • Efficiency: Concise writing saves you and the reader time. “If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.” – George Orwell, Politics and the English Language

By practicing these writing exercises you’ll develop a more confident, polished writing style.

Does this help? Let me know what you’d like us to cover next.