I’m not a profound writer by any stretch. And I’m no C.H. Spurgeon in the pulpit. But communication is what I do, and there’s one master tool in my chest that has helped me clean up sentences and craft spoken words. It’s the simple and grueling process of revision.
When you’re about to write or say something, I suggest you revise it at least 2 or 3 times before posting or verbalizing. For example, even if you’re just tweeting about your plans for the night, think of a better way to say it than: Going to dinner. Gonna be fun. Personally, I think the less interesting the activity, the more you should dig until you find an interesting angle to communicate from. At least, that’s the kind of stuff I like to read. Not so clever that you come off like you’re trying too hard. But focused and measured enough to get my attention.
When you’re about to have a difficult conversation, it’s well worth the investment of your time to rehearse what you want to say mentally, or commit it to paper if necessary. You owe it to the person you’re confronting. And you owe it to yourself-a few moments of preparation on the front in may save you hours and hours of explanation afterward.
I can’t tell you how long I’ve thought about certain sentences in my sermons, and how ruthlessly I’ve hacked away at them until they were concise and sticky. A simple sentence like: Between the promise and the payoff is the process-and the process is the point may take me weeks of on again, off again mental energy to perfect. But I suspect that my finished product packs more punch than: life is tough, but hang in there. It’ll be worth it.
Whether you’re preaching, blogging, or speaking a hard truth, the principle is golden: If you think it over, you’ll say it better. Everytime.