You want your marketing materials to carry a wallop, right? So don’t waste words. Here are three words that are almost always a waste. Take a few extra seconds to get rid of them, and nine times out of ten you’ll improve what you just wrote.
“Situation” isn’t such a bad word by itself. But it’s usually a big waste when it’s bolted onto another word. For instance, how is an “emergency situation” any worse than a plain old emergency? It isn’t. That’s always a good way to tell if you’ve padded out your writing with useless words: If you can chuck the word without changing the meaning, you didn’t need the word in the first place.
I’ve heard advice about how to handle a layoff situation. I’ve seen TV news reporters talk about flood situations. I’ve read blogs describing a hoax situation. They don’t fool me. These are just garden-variety layoffs, floods and hoaxes.
It’s the same drill with “process.” Here’s a fun video about choreographed ball-passing. Notice that the choreographer isn’t content to merely start rehearsals. No, he starts the rehearsal process. Remember the flood situation from a few sentences ago? It’s almost always followed by a cleanup process. How about the interview process? The reading process? Engage in the thinking process about that.
“Facility” takes a little more thought. If you run across something like “nursing home facility,” you already know what to do. But sometimes facility is hanging out there all by itself. In those cases, you still take it out, but you have to put something in its place.
But what? Try this little exercise. It works better with two people, but you can do it by yourself in a pinch. Close your eyes and have somebody read the following list of words out loud, slowly. Pay attention to mental image you get when you hear the words:
- Gas station
If you got any kind of mental picture for “facility,” you have a better imagination than I do. Just about any building (or group of them) is a facility. So the word doesn’t mean anything in particular. If you see “facility” in your blog, brochure or other writing, try to picture what kind of facility you are talking about, then use that word instead.
Of course, someday you may find yourself writing about a combination gas station, church and restaurant. Don’t rack your brain. Call it a facility and move on.
Other words and phrases
Can you think of some other words and phrases that don’t really mean anything? Sure you can. There are lots of them.