The Science of Strong Business Writing - Deepstash

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The Science of Strong Business Writing

hbr.org

Good writing gets the reader’s dopa­mine flowing

Whether it’s a succinct declarative statement in an email or a complex argument in a report, your writing has the potential to light up the neural circuitry of your readers’ brains.

Good writing gets the reader’s dopa­mine flowing in the area of the brain known as the r...

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Simplicity increases what scientists call the brain’s “processing fluency.” Short sentences, familiar words, and clean syntax ensure that the reader doesn’t have to exert too much brainpower to understand your meaning.

By contrast, studies have shown that sentences ...

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Specifics awaken a swath of brain circuits. Think of “pelican” versus “bird.” Or “wipe” versus “clean.”  Our neurons actually “embody” what the words mean: When we hear more-specific ones, we “taste,” “feel,” and “see” traces of the real thing.

Using more vivid, palpable la...

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Our brains are wired to make nonstop predictions, including guessing the next word in every line of text.

If your writing confirms the readers’ guess, that’s OK, though possibly a yawner. Surprise can make your message stick, helping readers learn and reta...

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Our brains process the emotional connotations of a word within 200 milliseconds of reading it—much faster than we understand its meaning. So when we read emotionally charged material, we reflexively react with feelings. Reason follows. We then combine the immediate feeling and subsequent thou...

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We’re wired to savor an­tic­ipation. One famous study showed that people are often happier planning a vacation than they are after taking one. Scientists call the reward “anticipatory utility.”

You can build up the same sort of excitement when you structure your writing. 

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Please the readers by giving them an “aha” moment:

  • Draw fresh distinctions. Ginni Rometty, formerly IBM’s CEO, offered one with this description of the future: “It will not be a world of man versus machine; it will be a world of man plus machine.”

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Our brains are wired to crave human connection—even in what we read. We don’t want just to read about people, though—we want to understand what they’re thinking as quickly as possible.

  • One way to help readers connect with you and your writing is to reveal more traces...

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Few things beat a good anecdote. Stories, even fragments of them, captivate extensive portions of readers’ brains in part because they combine many of the elements I’ve described already.

When you incorporate stories into your communications, big payoffs can result

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