Here I’ll discuss some methods to improve your writing in a business setting. In the workplace, good writing is simply effective writing that gets the job done.
Importance of Effective Business Writing
Close to three-quarters of employers say that want employees with strong written communication skills. That’s according to research conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers.
Written communication is one of the most common activities in almost any professional job. Unclear writing results in miscommunication and lost time.
In contrast, writing concisely and purposefully shows and supports clear thinking. It helps to avoid mistakes and makes it more likely that the desired outcome will be achieved.
Here, we will look at five of the most important principles of effective business writing.
Tip 1: Identify the Purpose
Start by identifying the purpose of the piece you are about to write. Two key questions to answer are:
- What is the issue your organisation faces?
- What is the solution you propose?
Before you begin to type a single word, you should be clear about the message you want to convey. If you can’t explain the issue in one or two sentences, then in all likelihood you don’t properly understand it yourself. This lack of clarity will be come across to your audience as well.
Not stating the key issue can result in a tremendous waste of time compared to the small amount of effort required to document it clearly. As well as time lost having to ask follow-up questions or confirm purpose, people can waste time acting on misinterpreted information.
Tip 2: State the Issue Upfront
Once you have clearly identified the purpose of your writing, you want to outline that issue at the start of your communication. In other words, as Melina Marchetta puts it, “Get straight to the point.”
A common mistake is to bury the purpose of your communication in the middle of the writing. This is true whether you are writing to a colleague or a business prospect. Use the remainder of your writing to expand on the issues you raise at the start of your communication.
Tip 3: Keep it Short
Almost any business communication can be improved through reduction. Shorter sentences and shorter paragraphs are more effective than longer ones. To help you keep track of the number of characters, words, sentences, and paragraphs, it is beneficial to use the online character counter tool.
Avoid using redundant adjectives such as “free gift” or “unexpected surprise”. Don’t say, “We are in the process of improving our infrastructure.” Just write, “We are improving our infrastructure.” Imagine that every word you write costs money and then spend accordingly.
Tip 4: Remove Buzzwords and Technical Jargon
Do you have the “bandwidth” for the challenge? Do we need to “map this out?” or do we need to make sure we “all sing from the same song sheet?”. The modern work environment is unfortunately awash with corporate buzzwords.
Not only do these buzzwords give your writing a certain cringe factor, they also make it harder to understand. When writing for business, the key is to be understood. Focus on writing as simply and clearly as possible.
Tip 5: Edit and Proof Your Writing
Famed author Truman Capote once remarked, “I’m all for the scissors. I believe more in the scissors than I do in the pencil.” What Capote meant by this is that good writing is crafted by editing.
Before you send any communication, take the time to read it. As you do this, ask yourself what could be simplified. Do you use three words where one would do just as well?
Next, run your writing through a free tool like Grammarly. This will help you avoid any embarrassing mistakes. If you do these two simple exercises, you coul be amazed at how much you’re writing is improved.
Business Writing and Leadership
Writing with clarity is a skill that is rare in the modern workplace. As such, it presents an opportunity to set yourself apart. As James Hume once said, “The art of communication is the language of leadership.”
Master effective written communication if you want to be a leader in your business. Of the different types of management careers you might pursue, almost every one can benefit greatly from being an effective writer.