We should all have three objectives in mind when we write: 1) to be understood, 2) to interest our audience and 3) to add value to the subject. But how good are we at meeting these three objectives? Here are 15 simple tips for better business writing which we hope you find useful.
Better business writing: Let’s start at the beginning
1. Write for your Audience
Very often writers must break down complicated information into language and terminology an ordinary reader can comprehend. It is vital that they understand the source material and know what they are planning to write.
2. Make it easy
The writers’ expertise lies not in the technical field, but in technical writing
If the writer doesn’t understand the subject then the audience will undoubtedly have difficulties. This is not to say writers need to be experts in the field they write about. That is the job of scientists, engineers or other technical experts whose focus is the product.
The writers’ expertise lies not in the technical field, but in technical writing and the need to write from the perspective of the product’s user. Their skill lies in converting expert information for non-expert users.
The process of writing has to be closely followed for it to be effective
The process of writing has to be closely followed for it to be effective. It begins with
- gathering information
- careful planning
3. Who is my reader?
Analyse your audience. Better business writing requires you to ask yourself what your readers’ expectations are, how they feel about the product or service, what their existing knowledge and attitudes are, and anything else about their demographic characteristics.
4. What is the document?
Ask yourself if your document is a:
- a research paper
- a marketing catalogue
- a user manual
- a proposal or tender response
5. Why am I writing this?
What is the purpose of my document? Ask yourself what you want to communicate, what you want your document to accomplish, what you want from your readers, i.e. do you want them to simply understand the use of the product, change their thinking, persuade them to a certain action, or perform a task.
Ask yourself what you want to communicate, what you want your document to accomplish
6. Where will the reader use this?
Ask yourself where will the user read your writing? What industry do they work in?
The answers to who, what, why and where determine the how or the style and help shape the format of the document. Once you have gathered as much information as you can about both the reader and the product or service, you can begin writing.
7. Follow the POWER process:
- Plan and thoroughly do your research
- Organise the information and create an outline or a mind map
- Write your document
- Edit and proofread several times for content, layout, grammar, punctuation, spelling and register
- Review and redraft as necessary
Remember there are very good writing courses available to help you to hone your writing skills.
8. Mind your four Cs
Your writing should be correct, complete, clear and concise. The last is perhaps the most challenging. Check your writing for redundancies and wordiness.
9. Follow the KISS principle
Keep your paragraphs, sentences and words short and simple. Never burden your readers with a complex, convoluted or complicated style.
10. Follow the other two Cs
Keep your style cohesive and coherent
Keep your style cohesive and coherent. Check if your language has a logical sequence, clarity of thought and of expression. Signpost your writing clearly using linking words.
11. Check if the layout is clear
Check headings, subheadings, key information highlighted, and appropriate listings. Formatting is critical.
12. Avoid thick dense texts
Avoid long paragraphs. White space is breathing space and you can create this with margins, short paragraphs and bulleted lists.
13. Use visuals
Where appropriate and relevant use visuals. Pictures, images, diagrams, charts or graphs make for easier understanding and retention of complicated information, apart from making your document visually more attractive.
However well-researched your content may be, presentation and design are vital.
14. Adjust your register
In other words, language, style and tone must suit the specific audience. Consider if you are writing for professionals or for the lay person. For example, a legal document for lawyers, a medical document for those in the medical profession, scientific documents for scientists all use technical language understood by a specific set of readers.
Consider if you are writing for professionals or for the lay person
If, on the other hand, you are writing for non-specialists for whom legal, medical or scientific terminology is jargon, then avoid technical language.
15. Consider the specific media
If your writing is intended for the radio, television, print or the web, you need to adjust your style and format accordingly.
Get Your Writing on Track
The benefits of excellent writing are many. With a basic understanding of the business concepts, practices or products, a clear consideration of the audience and purpose of the writing, and excellent language skills, a writer can present the most complex information in a language, style and format that most people can easily comprehend and use.
There is lots of help out there to help you get your writing on track. Try looking on Google and watching some video tutorials or reading some top tips. Alternatively, look for a reputable provider of professional writing training.