- On January 29, 2020
Getting your point across in writing is challenging enough, so don’t muddy your message with words and phrases you don’t need. These expressions, aptly called ‘crutch,’ ‘filler,’ or ‘clutter’ terms, not only water down your point, they can actually work against you by making your thoughts sound weak or indecisive. Examples of these culprits include:
It seems / seem to
In my opinion
There are many, many others, but this list gives you an idea. The basic rule is: anything that doesn’t advance your idea or clarify your concept needs to go. Everything else is just padding. And adding these words and phrases does nothing but diminish your impact.
Consider the results when we add a little clutter to some famous quotations:
“Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can possibly do for your country.”
“In my opinion, there’s no ‘I’ in ‘team.’”
“It seems there’s no place like home.”
“I think we have nothing to fear but fear itself.”
“Loose lips basically sink ships.”
Did throwing in unnecessary verbiage improve any of those? No!
Relying on filler will detract from your writing, too.
The best way to weed out the fluff is to try your sentence without the ‘crutch’ — if it still works, eliminate the clutter. And you can always leave out ‘I think,’ ‘in my opinion,’ ‘it seems to me,’ and the like — it’s obvious since you are the author that the thoughts and opinions expressed are yours.
Lose the ‘helping’ phrases and your message will come across clearly and confidently every time! (At least I think, possibly, in my opinion, you’ll actually be quite pleased, it seems!)