- On September 27, 2016
I read a lot of obituaries—both the news pieces journalists write and the paid notices, which are typically penned by the families of those who have died. While an obituary is certainly the venue to pour on the praise, more often than not people pile it on too heavily, whether they’re writing the piece or being quoted for it. They load up their prose and comments with adjectives and adverbs that end up diminishing the impact of what the person did—and straining credibility. This sort of thing happens in business writing all the time, too.
Take a look at these examples:
• A philanthropist’s tremendous altruism and sincere regard for his fellow mankind improved countless lives.
His altruism improved countless lives could have stood on its own as a powerful statement to this man’s contribution to mankind. Altruism—such a strong quality—doesn’t need to be qualified. And if you’re altruistic, you automatically look sincerely on your fellow man.
• A scientist was incredibly patient, absolutely meticulous, extremely disciplined, and absolutely trustworthy.
Drop incredibly, extremely, and both mentions of absolutely and you have a scientist who was patient, meticulous, disciplined, and trustworthy.
• We are on the cusp of significant and transformative change, but we can’t do it without your support.
To transform something means to change it altogether and usually in a good way, so you could argue that transformative change is redundant and end this fundraising appeal with We are on the cusp of a transformation, but we can’t do it without your support. Significant is obviously redundant whether you go with this option or stay with transformative change, which I wouldn’t necessarily take issue with.
• We know that to deliver a truly exceptional experience, we must have an energized team to serve you.
Truly, which is also a favorite among speech-givers (How many times have you heard “I am truly honored”?) should always come out.