Beware the abstract noun

A writer’s job is to make people see. When people see, they understand (that’s why we often say “I see” when we understand).

But here’s the problem:

Most business writing is clogged with words that obscure rather than clarify.

Sometimes the fog is so dense that readers give up.

The culprit?

Abstract nouns – nouns that express a concept (and often used instead of a verb that describes what somebody did).

Here’s a statement from that creaks under the weight of abstract nouns:

“FUJITSU Cloud IaaS Trusted Public S5 is all about agility, control and confidence. This trusted, public cloud service has been architected from the ground up to bring you enterprise-grade levels of security, reliability and performance.”

Agility, control, confidence, security, reliability, performance. Do any of these nouns paint a vivid picture?

They do not.

I don’t mean to pick on Fujitsu; I’ve read worse sentences. And cloud IT services by nature are abstract, so it’s tough work describing them without using concept nouns.

But why write like that?

No one will remember what you’ve said; they’ll phase out and click back to Facebook.

What’s spooky about this sentence (other than that it exists in various forms on many other IT websites) is that nobody is doing anything.

Readers need flesh and blood (and bleeding).

Let’s revise Fujitsu’s handiwork.

Here’s why we think FUJITSU Cloud IaaS Trusted Public S5 is right for your business. Our engineers built this service for enterprise businesses, like yours. We listened to clients, who told us they need simple controls to add new users and make quick changes. That’s the Fujitsu difference: we design our cloud services to keep your business agile.

Okay, it’s still a little clunky, and longer. But look at the material I had to work with.

Now, at least, people are doing things.

Stay light on abstract nouns, or you’ll sink.