You won’t believe this (or, How NOT to be ‘in-credible’)9 May, 2012
Which of the following is more credible?
- Computer A is significantly faster than Computer B.
- Computer A is 40 per cent faster than Computer B.
Of course, 2 beats 1 hands down. But it’s also harder to write; you have to dig up the ’40 per cent’ statistic.
Is it worth the extra work? You bet. People are naturally sceptical, so will downplay your claim that the computer speed difference is ‘significant.’
‘Sure,’ they’ll think. ‘It’s probably something like five per cent faster. Not worth worrying about.’
In our writing courses, one of the ‘Golden Rules’ trainees learn is ‘Specifics sell.‘ Quantifying something, wrapping a number around it, makes it much more believable.
Before: ‘He’s always late to work.’
After: ‘He’s been late to work eight of the last 10 days.’
Before: ‘Option A is much dearer than Option B.’
After: ‘Option A costs almost twice that of Option B.’
The good news is that being specific can be pretty easy; the extra information you need is often readily at hand, or you know it already.
So don’t be lazy – inject more specifics into your writing, and use fewer generalisations. You’ll reap the benefits of more cred and be much more persuasive.