During times of crisis it is not unusual to see formal communication include more than its fair share of adjectives and adverbs to help set a narrative. While the need for transparency and expedient communication is strong, it’s worth a few extra moments to perform a formal modifier check.
Case in point, I’m seeing a spike in the use of the word “indefinitely” to describe cancellations. Example: “We regret to inform our audience that in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the board of directors has decided to indefinitely cancel all concert activity until further notice.”
“Indefinitely” projects a very defeatist attitude. It’s devoid of hope or confidence.
Think about it from a revenue generation standpoint, which of these groups is more likely to inspire a donation: one that indefinitely cancels all concert activity or one that suspended concerts temporarily.
In the end, strategic communication during periods of crisis is a battle over relevant and essentials perceptions. Modifiers matter. If you’re not sure how an adjective or adverb comes across, err on the side of caution: “when in doubt, leave modifiers out.”