Opinion  

Why it pays to Kiss

Simoney Kyriakou

Simoney Kyriakou

Are you a Dickens or a Hemingway? 

Do you take an entire page of text to describe the anthropomorphic qualities of a chest of drawers or do you keep your descriptions simple, short and to the point?

Would you have inserted an Oxford comma into the above sentence so it read: 'simple, short, and to the point?'

Writing anything takes time, and writing well can take even longer. 

In the good old days of print-only journalism, opening sentences were kept to 20 words maximum. They had to have no subordinate clauses and were structured so the reader could get the gist of the entire story in that one phrase.

Stories were written based on solid rules, 'pyramid style' so all the background information was shoved to the bottom of the article, while the salient information was in the first few paragraphs.

Word counts mattered.

The advent of digital journalism has turned this conventional wisdom on its head, unless you have an old editor (like yours truly) who keeps pressing this point home. 

People do not have the energy to read Dickens online. It requires too much thought.

And while his words (ironically, initially serialised in newspapers) are beautiful to read in a book, it is much easier to read Hemingway's bald and basic sentence structure. You can see that Hemingway was a print journalist, first and foremost.

Why does all this matter? And what does this have to do with kissing?

More than words

The Bank of England has everything to do with it. And most investment commentary. And your own client newsletters. 

It pays to Kiss because it pays to 'keep it simple, stupid'. 

The Kiss principle is used across various industries and is about striving for simplicity. For communications, simplicity should be a key goal and unnecessary complexity should be avoided. 

A deep-dive analysis of the BoE's various missives has posited that the more convoluted the writing style of the Old Lady of Threadneedle Street, the longer it takes for markets to react and the fewer news reports on it. 

Writing for Bank Underground (an excellent blog that you should follow), Timothy Munday stated: "The BoE’s message is of paramount concern when drafting communication.

"But, at the margin, when that message’s substance has been formed, the style it is presented in can help the market to understand it quicker."

('More quickly', say the people who like Oxford commas).

Munday's analysis said writing style can influence how long markets take to digest BoE monetary policy information.

He wrote: "BoE publications that summarise content in the first sentence, and use less unexpected vocabulary, are associated with a faster time for swap markets to reach a new equilibrium price following the publication release."