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Delete the Throat Clearing

When I started yesterday’s post, I dithered around for a while, typing in a few pompous sentences about the importance of ground rules. After a couple of minutes, I found my subject and got comfortably into it. Once there, I cut those first dull comments.

Some people aptly call the dull, unfocused openings “throat clearing.” But whether they’re throat clearing, warming up, or finding one’s subject, those sluggish opening lines are not worth keeping, even if they fill a whole screen or took an hour to compose. For the sake of your audience, you have to let them go. Imagine starting a speech by clearing your throat into the microphone!

The next time you sit down to write, allow yourself a bit of throat clearing. But when you’re well into your ideas, delete it. That way, your reader gets to start at the real beginning of your message.

Posted by Lynn Gaertner Johnson
By Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston has helped thousands of employees and managers improve their business writing skills and confidence through her company, Syntax Training. In her corporate training career of more than 20 years, she has worked with executives, engineers, scientists, sales staff, and many other professionals, helping them get their messages across with clarity and tact.

A gifted teacher, Lynn has led writing classes at more than 100 companies and organizations such as MasterCard, Microsoft, Boeing, Nintendo, REI, AARP, Ledcor, and Kaiser Permanente. Near her home in Seattle, Washington, she has taught managerial communications in the MBA programs of the University of Washington and UW Bothell. She has created a communications course, Business Writing That Builds Relationships, and provides the curriculum at no cost to college instructors.

A recognized expert in business writing etiquette, Lynn has been quoted in "The Wall Street Journal," "The Atlantic," "Vanity Fair," and other media.

Lynn sharpened her business writing skills at the University of Notre Dame, where she earned a master's degree in communication, and at Bradley University, with a bachelor's degree in English. She grew up in suburban Chicago, Illinois.