By Kevin Nelson
Whether you’re running a small business or a large corporation, odds are that a significant part of your work consists mainly of communicating with others. Most often, the communication happens in writing form. Communication is vital in the business environment and one needs to ensure that their writing is as clear as possible in order to effectively pass on the message.
Businesses and organizations rely heavily on writing as their major form of communication, be it memos, emails, proposals, or letters. Clients and business partners may judge a business or an organization by its quality of writing. This really shows how poor writing can negatively affect a business or an organization.
The following five tips will help ensure that you have excellent business writing skills and your communication stands out.
1. Organize Thoughts Before You Write
Before starting out on your writing, you really need to think about the message you want to pass across. According to Garner, the biggest mistake is that people start writing before they’re truly ready. As a result, your writing tends to be less structured. Collect your thoughts first before starting writing. As you think about whatever you are going to write, make sure that your audience will be able to get your intended message easily.
2. Define Your Key Message and Have It Tailored For Your Audience
What is it that you really want to pass across? Know your main points beforehand. This will ensure that you’re really passing them through to your audience effectively. Strive to write in a brief and clear manner and avoid the use of jargon as much as possible. Many of your readers are obviously busy and will spare little time for reading. Don’t bore them. Besides, most people don’t like to read so by presenting your main points early, you’re able to capture and maintain the reader’s attention throughout the letter.
Also, having your key message defined but addressing it to the wrong audience will all be for naught. Make sure the message is suited for the particular audience you’re targeting.
3. Get Your Main Points Organized
Organizing your main points before developing your materials helps maintain a smooth flow and ensures that your message gets delivered in a logical manner. This will help you avoid postponing your message to the middle point of your writing. You can list out your key points before starting out on your writing. Marvin Swift supported the ideology that for you to achieve clear writing, you should have clear thinking. Knowing how to bring out your writing in an organized and interesting manner makes one’s message more intelligent and essential to communicating effectively and winning business. This really sets you apart.
Creating the first draft enables you to quickly capture your thoughts as they come. It also helps you set a tone that matches your audience expectations. Depending on the target audience, your tone may be instructional or academic.
4. Be Professional and Pay Special Attention to Names, Gender, and Titles
Not all business documents necessarily need to be formal, but they should always be professionally written. Formal language is mainly applicable to documents such as letters, job applications, and legal documents. One should avoid the use of jokes, gossip, and personal comments.
This is important as businesses are required by the law to keep copies of all their business correspondence. It may really be embarrassing and uncomfortable and even may ruin your company or business when one of your unprofessional business writings lands in public. Always pay attention to titles, names, and genders. There is nothing more embarrassing than when one addresses a business partner or a client incorrectly, for example, addressing Mrs. Jane instead of Ms. Jane.
5. Proofread Your Work
Proofreading enables you to examine your text carefully and correct any typographical errors and mistakes. It is very embarrassing having a silly spelling mistake in your fine document. Your work should also have a clear beginning, middle, and an end that flows. It’s advisable to proofread your work several hours later as it makes it easier to edit when the mind has freshened up.
Also, having someone else to read your edited work further helps to eliminate errors that you might have skipped. Have someone that you know well and trust to re-read your work and offer you constructive criticism and positive feedback. Try to keep your material as simple as possible. After proofreading your work, review it once more to ensure that the main points have been delivered.
Principles to Remember
- Outline all major points you wish to pass across before you start writing to make your writing more direct and efficient.
- Use your words sparingly and keep your sentences short and to the point.
- Strive for clarity by minimizing on the usage of fancy words.
- Always know the type of audience you are targeting beforehand.
- Know your writing style and avoid grammar and spelling mistakes.
- Assume that your first draft is perfect.
- Present your main idea too late.
- Give too many choices as it often leads to decision paralysis.
Try as much as possible to review your work by comparing your writing to its title ensuring that you pass the appropriate message across to the right audience. You can hire freelance writers who can help you out if writing is not your strong suit.
Having poorly written business texts reflects negatively on your business communication and might even taint your business image. Unlike the regular, casual forms of communication, most business communications are meant to achieve certain objectives.
Always practice your writing skills as this will help you a lot. Declan Mulkeen urges that though it may take longer than ten minutes, practicing writing is the most worthwhile investment you could make for sharpening this skill! Great writing requires talent that a few of us possess, but effective writing can be easily learned with the help of frequent practice.