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How To "Write Like An Amazonian"
Learn to communicate effectively through writing
In a remote, asynchronous, and digital world, writing is a powerful skill.
Jeff Bezos banned PowerPoint at Amazon and promoted a writing culture with 6-page memos.
"It's probably the smartest thing we ever did." - Bezos.
The writing culture has helped Amazon grow into a trillion dollar + company. It can help you too.
(Source: "Write Like and Amazonian" and this tweet).
Here's how to "Write Like an Amazonian.”
1. Use less than 30 words per sentence
Aim to be clear and concise.
In business writing, the goal is to convey the main point. Quickly.
Some ways to stay below 30:
Avoid compound sentences. Break the sentence into two separate thoughts.
Use concise words. Here are some examples from Amazon's "Write Like an Amazonian."
Cut qualifiers like "I think" or "In my opinion." Be direct with your recommendation.
Use bullets and spacing to make your writing digestible. Tweeting is a great forcing function for concise writing.
2. Be objective: replace adjectives and adverbs with data
Numbers don't lie. Fluffy words are imprecise.
Replace vague adjectives with data.
"The social campaign will drastically improve echo dot sales." → "The social campaign will increase echo dot sales by 3.5%."
"Sending a follow up greatly increases sales." → "Follow ups increase sales conversions by 20%."
The point from this tip is as follows: use fluffy adjectives and adverbs (extremely, very, exponentially) sparingly.
Again, aim to be clear and concise.
3. Use the "So What" Test
Business writing is not meant to entertain.
What is the main point? Does the reader have a clear, specific action to take?
Put yourself in the shoes of the reader. Don't let them ask "So what?" at the end.
Take advantage of introductions and conclusions with your posts. Clearly illustrate the "So What" in one or two sentences to start the essay. Reiterate the "So What" with a brief conclusion.
4. Avoid Jargon and Acronyms
Adding buzzwords will not improve your writing. Use plain language.
Keep your writing simple. An 8th grader should understand it.
Remember, we're aiming for clarity. We're not trying to impress.
Also, don't alienate the reader by using acronyms you haven't explained first.
Elon Musk says it best.
5. Use subject-verb-object sentences
You might've learned this as using active voice over passive voice in school.
Active voice drives clarity.
✅ Bezos founded Amazon.
Avoid passive voice. Passive voice is an object-verb-subject sentence.
❌ Amazon was founded by Bezos.
In the digital world, communication through writing is a powerful skill. Writing like an Amazonian is a great way to improve this skill.