From a small business owner to being part of a massive multinational corporation, our bulk work involves communicating and mostly in writing. Be it emails, proposals for different clients, presentations, memos to senior executives, promotional copy; grant proposals training materials and a wide range of other documents. The quality of your business writing can make or break your image. A lot of times, we find it boring and a little too much to waste our time on trying to work on our writing skills. With such hectic schedule and deadlines, no one really seems to be interested at all. Though, knowing how to write the same sentence in an interesting manner can actually give you an edge over your competitors. In this article, we will discuss how you can improve your business writing skills. This will help you communicate easily and automatically enhance the chances of either being hired, for promotion or bringing in more clients.
1. Stick to Less is More
In today’s time, everyone is really busy and has not even a second to spare. Hence, when it comes to writing for business or even in general, one has to be to the point and brief. Long feature writing has become a passe. It’s no more a 2000 word feature with elaborate descriptions. People just want to vanish, the moment they see a long write up. So, just come straight to the point rather than making stories and giving thousand unnecessary details.
2. Try to Avoid the Use of Jargons
Nobody really likes using a boring and typical style of business writing. In certain cases, you have no option but to use it. Though one should always try to use simple and plain language which is actually quite meaningful without going over the top.
3. Double Check Your Writing
After you are done with writing, start proofreading it immediately. You can then do it again after a few hours and if time permits, maybe a few days later. Even a small typo can put you in an embarrassing situation. I agree that it is human to err but people judge one anyway. Except for emergency, you should always set aside some time and then get back to your writing. The human brain is difficult and tricky to understand. At times, even if the error is easily visible, it could overlook it. Hence, get detached to it and do something else. Take a stroll, talk to your friends or just relax for a while and then later have a look at your piece of writing. You will realise that a free mind makes it easier to catch up with the errors before other people see it.
4. Be Careful with Titles, Names, and Genders
One should be very careful with names, genders, and titles. Nothing can be more embarrassing than calling or referring to Mr. Kapoor as Ms. Kapoor. If you are not really sure, then check with someone who might know. And for the confusion regarding gender, you can use gender-neutral language. Go for “They” and “their” which are rapidly becoming easily acceptable gender-neutral singular pronouns.
5. Focus on being Professional
We usually tend to think of all the business communication as formal, which isn’t essential or even very productive. It’s ok to be formal for job applications and legal documents, but that doesn’t have to be the case everywhere. Though keep in mind that informal doesn’t imply being unprofessional. Stay away from gossips, off-color jokes and personal comments in your business communication. Do remember to not mail or send out any information to the public which can make you uncomfortable.
6. 5 W’s and H
Similar to journalism, you should also stick to 5 W’s and H. You should be able to answer: Who? When? Why? Where? What? And How? This will help you to present them with all the answers that they might be seeking. For e.g. say there is an XYZ service. You should be able to give your audience the answer for who is it relevant to? What should the audience know about it? Why is it crucial for them? Where and when they can apply it? And last but not the least, how will they use the information?
7. Save Templates
Once you have written a good email, letter or any other document, you can save it for a later use as a template. As part of the business world, one is required to write quite similar stuff now and then. So, whenever there is a requirement to write something similar, use the previously saved document. Just make small alterations and you are ready to go without wasting much time. Be careful that you remove information like names, company or other details before using it. With a busy schedule and tight deadlines, one has to be quick and this where the error occurs.
8. Call to Action
Usually, there is a reason or purpose behind most of the business communication that is done, so do keep in mind that they include a call to action. In other words, you have to be very clear as to what do you expect the reader to do. It could also be better to say, something you expect the reader to do right away. If you are not clearly mentioning your purpose, then don’t assume that everyone will understand. A lot of them hardly care and many might not even get it right.
9. Don’t give too Many Choices
Ideally, you shouldn’t be giving them any choices. If there’s a meeting that has to be set up, give them a single time and you can ask them to confirm or present a different time. At most, give them two options and you can ask them to pick one.
10. What’s in it for your readers?
Effective writing is not about describing benefits but features. A reader never cares for all this. Rather than talking about it has this and that, tell them how it can help you in finishing their work quickly. The best way to engage them is by providing them benefits which will make their lives better and easier.
Good Writing is a talent that very few are blessed with but with practice and patience, one can definitely learn the skill to write. Follow the given tips and it will surely help you to improve your business writing skills. You can also tell us about any tips and tricks that might have helped you.
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