Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 220) – William Zinsser

William Zinsser (1922 - 2015) American Writer, Editor and Literary Critic

William Zinsser (1922 – 2015) American Writer, Editor and Literary Critic

Who can understand the clotted language of everyday American commerce: the memo, the corporate report, the business letter, the notice from the bank explaining its latest “simplified” statement? What member of an insurance plan can decipher the brochure explaining the costs and benefits? What father or mother can put together a child’s toy from the instructions on the box? Our national tendency is to inflate and thereby sound important. The airline pilot who announces that he is presently anticipating experiencing considerable precipitation wouldn’t think of saying it may rain. The sentence is too simple—there must be something wrong with it.

“But the secret of good writing is to strip every sentence to its cleanest components. Every word that serves no function, every long word that could be a short word, every adverb that carries the same meaning that’s already in the verb, every passive construction that leaves the reader unsure who is doing what—these are the thousand and one adulterants that weaken the strength of a sentence. And they usually occur in proportion to education and rank.”

— William Zinsser in On Writing Well

About John Zimmer

International speaker, presentation skills expert, lawyer, improv performer
This entry was posted in Quotes for Public Speakers and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 220) – William Zinsser

  1. This was great John. Thank you for sharing.

    Like

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