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Does Your Writing Let You Down? 8 Tips to Help You Improve

Declan Mulkeen

18 Jan 2017

How well do you represent your organisation with your written communication?  Are you grammatically accurate? Are you clear and concise or do you use jargon and ‘biz-speak’?  Is your style formal or chatty?

In the age of informal emails, texts, blogs, and the growing use of social media by individuals and businesses alike, do you believe good writing continues to be important? If you do, here are 8 tips to help you improve your business writing.

Why is it so important to improve your business writing?

It is vital that your business writing reflects your professionalism and represents positively the image of your employer

All these questions and more must be considered. In the era of email and virtual communication, your writing is often the only tangible thing that your customer, supplier or partner will see from you and your organisation.

It is, therefore, vital that your writing reflects your professionalism and represents positively the image of your employer.

8 key tips to help you improve your business writing

The following would probably have been familiar to most business professionals less than a generation ago. However, time has changed and most of us today would benefit from the following tips:

1.Why are you writing? 

Although tone is very difficult to capture on paper, the choice of words can influence how your writing is interpreted

Define the purpose for your writing. Are you complaining, asking for a concession, selling, or providing factual information?

Although tone is very difficult to capture on paper, the choice of words can influence how your writing is interpreted: whether in a friendly and inviting manner or as confrontational and perhaps consequently damaging to a business relationship.

2. Who is your audience?

Getting the level wrong risks your message seeming condescending to some, or overly pompous to others

Are you writing to a specific person or group, or is your writing likely to be read by a wider audience?  What are their skills, interests and ability to understand the message you are trying to convey?

Getting the level wrong risks your message seeming condescending to some, or overly pompous to others.

3. How do you begin?

Do not expect to create a perfect written document on your first attempt.

With experience, many writers also know when their best time of day is to write

Many writers compose a rough first draft and then refine it. Others start with an outline or even bullet points that highlight key points and expand their text from there.

With experience, many writers also know when their best time of day is to write, especially if the document requires a lot of creativity or is complex in nature.

4. What it the best way to edit your document?

If you prefer to review it yourself, take a break between each stage to allow you to reflect on your writing

A second pair of eyes to review your document is often invaluable. Don’t be afraid to ask a colleague or a manager to review your work prior to signing it off or hitting the send button.

If you prefer to review it yourself, take a break between each stage to allow you to reflect on your writing. Remember, help is on hand from courses that can help you to proof read your own documentation better.

5. How clear is your message?

During the editing process, authors should strive to reword sentences that are ambiguous or miss the point.

You should also check for consistency in both style and content. Are you delivering your message in a way that is expected by your audience?

6. Is your writing style very direct or are you expecting your audience to read between the lines? 

Once again – know your audience. Should you be so direct? Do you need to adjust the tone and style of your writing? Does the audience know you?

7. Have you included words or phrases that might not be understood by your audience? 

Think who your audience is? Are they non-native English speakers? If so, how likely are they to know all the words you have written? Avoid acronyms, business-speak and anything else you think might would impact your writing from being understood.

8. Have you lapsed into jargon?

Whatever you do – avoid jargon. There is nothing worse than resorting to jargon-filled emails, proposals, PowerPoints, etc. Keep your writing simple and your audience will understand you. Fill it with jargon and good luck!

Fewer words are generally better, especially for time sensitive audiences who want to receive a message without undue reflection.

Finally, remind yourself of your message and your audience. You  should write as if you are addressing your audience in person. These 8 questions should help you improve your business writing and get your message across.

Review your document one last time before hitting send.