Whether we want to or not, most of us have to write, and in most cases we write e-mails, reports, reviews or memos that have to be written in a professional capacity. Good writing is the report that gets action and the letter that says what a phone call can’t. Find out where better writing can take you…
In business writing, the language is solid, the point of view is clear and the ideas are well expressed. It can be hard work, and even good writers can be discouraged, therefore it helps to have the know-how. Here’s how to get motivated.
When Do We Use Business Writing?
- Appraisals / Performance Reviews / Informal written feedback
- Customer Service Chat Tools
- Application forms
- CVs / Personal Statement
- PowerPoint presentations
- Linkedin messaging / posts
- Documenting policies and procedures SOPS – (Standard Operating Procedures)
- Updates / Holiday handover emails for colleagues
- References for exiting employees
- Best Practice updates
And you thought you didn’t need to write much anymore…
well, that’s that myth well and truly busted.
The Pweor of the Hmuan Mnid
Aoccdrnig to rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer what oredr the ltteers in a word are. The only iprmoetnt thing is that the first and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a total mses and you can still raed it wouthit a porbelm. This is bcuseae the human mind deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the word as a wlohe.
For most of us, we have an average of 121 business-related emails to send and receive each day, and that number is expected to increase to 140 a day by 2018, according to a recent study by the Radicati Group, a tech market research firm based in Silicon Valley.
In other words, business writing is not going away anytime soon.
- You must read. If the only writing you ever read is your own, you will have no standards to judge your writing against. Read like a spectator, if you must, but try to read like an apprentice.
- You must write. No matter how many rules you know, it takes practice to write well. Your tenth letter to a disgruntled client will be easier to write than the first one, and believe it or not, the tenth report will be easier to write too.
- You should want to write. Find personal reasons for wanting to write well and for wanting to communicate with others. Then, turn off the internal (or external!) language cop that’s slowing you down and get writing.
- You need a feedback system to tell you how you’re doing. You need to know if your writing works. People don’t learn to write well from being corrected; they learn not to write. Look at feedback as an opportunity to find better solutions, not as an opportunity to correct errors.
The 4 Cs of Good Business Writing
Less is more.
1. Be clear
Avoid jargon and opt for the easier word and shortest phrase (e.g. ‘chose’ instead of ‘elected’, ‘I agree’ instead of ‘I concur’ etc.).
2. Be concise
Use short sentences and avoid long, multi-clause strings. Reduce those redundant words. e.g. ‘Discussed’ instead of ‘Entered into a discussion about’.
3. Be Complete
Make a list of what you need to include, stick to the facts and key points without embellishment, and put yourself in your reader’s shoes to make sure what you have written can be understood as a standalone and hits the right tone.
4. Be Correct
Proof read before submitting or hitting send. There are plenty of online resources if Grandma Says Please fills you with terror (Grammar, Spelling, Punctutation). Don’t ruin your masterpiece with silly errors. If your reader thinks you can’t be trusted with the little things, they won’t trust you with the big things.
Remember, perception is reality. Keep it short, and easy to understand, and find out where better writing can take you. #lovewriting