How often do you hear or read adjectives that really have a vague meaning to you? “She signed a long-term contract.” “This project is worth a lot of money.” “The client’s office is a long way away.” “That was a $billion deal.” “The new office is on an acre-plus of land.”
Can you visualize “huge,” “a lot,” “long way,” “billion,” or “acre?” Yes, you might have some concept of money and acre, but what about huge and a lot, etc.? When you’re describing something to anyone make a word picture for him/her. Example: “She signed a three-year contract.” “This project is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.” “The client’s office is 42 miles from ours.”
“That was a $billion deal.” Now, conjure up a billion? What does that look like? I looked it up:
- 1 billion seconds ago was 1951
- 1 billion minutes ago Jesus walked alone in Galilee
- 1 billion hours ago no one walked on the earth on two legs
- 8.4 hours ago DC spent $1 billion.
- Five F-35C Lightning II Fighter Jets
- Half of what American businesses lose per year due to poor writing skills.
“The new office is on an acre-plus of land.” Can you describe an acre to someone?
It’s 43,560 square feet -can you picture that? I don’t think so. The word picture: an acre is the size of your favorite football field. You can picture a football field, not 43, 560 square feet.
Describe in word pictures when you’re writing e-mails, briefs, policies, cover letters, and other documents. You want to make it easy for your reader to “get it”; the same as you want to understand and “see” what your writers mean. These are money savers too.
Describe “big.” It’s all relative to your reader or listeners. “A big mistake.” Did it ruin a project? Did it cost the company/you money? Did it hurt someone/thing? Was it a not billing your client for that extra hour? “Big” is different to all of us:
Specificity – word pictures – will help your readers, listeners and your bottom line.