In the age of WhatsApp, Facebook and email, the importance of good business writing skills is often overlooked. While technology has certainly improved how we communicate, it has undoubtedly had a negative impact on the quality of that communication.
In a world of virtual communication, the quality of your business writing is one of the few tools you have at your disposal to impress your clients, peers or even boss. Here are six ways to enhance your business writing and make the right impact.
How to Enhance Your Business Writing
In an article published in the Harvard Business Review, several points are identified as key to successful business writing. Let’s take a look at them one by one:
Think before you write. Who is your audience? What do you want to tell them? What do they want to hear? Good communication means clear writing. Writing before the author is well prepared can mean their writing is less structured, less focused and may not convey a clear message.
2. Be Direct
Be direct and to get to the point straight away. Longer articles should introduce the main topic and provide a solution to the critical issue being analysed. This technique would be especially useful for items such as sales proposals, policies and procedures and anything that requires the author to get the attention of the reader quickly before they lose interest.
Think before you write. Who is your audience? What do you want to tell them?
This technique would be especially useful for items such as sales proposals, policies and procedures and anything that requires the author to get the attention of the reader quickly before they lose interest.
It can be argued that in some instances, the author might be wise to take into account the communication style preferences of their audience.
For example, in some cultures, eloquence, the application of logic, or attention to detail are important. Directness per se may not always be the most preferred way to communicate in these instances. However, the ability to summarise clearly is an important skill regardless of audience expectations.
3. Be Concise
Do not use unnecessary words. Using words wisely is much more appealing to an audience. Readers who feel the need to get through an overly verbose article are often turned off partway through and may not be motivated to finish reading it.
Articles that are not concise can be a challenge to audiences whose written English language skills are still developing.
The HBR article also recommends choosing word options carefully. For example, using the active rather than passive version of a word is usually both more direct and clear. Using fewer prepositions can be helpful. In some instances, shortening words and using contractions may be advised, especially if an article is less formal.
4. Avoid Big Words and Buzzwords
Most businesses are guilty of using buzzwords and acronyms. Although some acronyms can be a useful shortcut, especially when they are commonly understood across an entire line of business, it also requires all readers to understand their meaning in the context of the written message.
Trying to read the article from another person’s point of view helps put it into a wider context
If this is not the case, then their readers may feel confused or marginalised. Buzzwords quickly become overused, leaving the impression that the author is lazy, pretentious, or both. Big words rarely make the author look clever; they often achieve the opposite.
5. Reread Your Article
Good authors recognise that they rarely get their article right the first time. Reviewing an article for the pitfalls highlighted above is a good start.
Don’t be afraid to edit. Putting an article aside for a short period and then rereading it also helps many authors see mistakes
Trying to read the article from another person’s point of view helps put it into a wider context. Where possible, asking a trusted friend or colleague to read your draft article is also a good idea. Constructive criticism should be welcomed, not resented, rejected or taken personally and will help you enhance your business writing immeasurably.
Finally, don’t be afraid to edit. Putting an article aside for a short period and then rereading it also helps many authors see mistakes and awkward phrasing, allowing them to improve the quality of their writing. Good writing takes time and good discipline.
We hope you find tips useful and help in some way to enhance your business writing. Do get in touch if you want to share your experiences or need more advice.