Improve your business writing by following the seven suggestions below. By practicing these tips, you will be able to get your message across more clearly and help your colleagues and customers by not wasting their time.
Write like a newspaper journalist
Write the important stuff at the start. Begin with your conclusion. This may seem alien, but for time poor colleagues and customers doing this can make a massive difference. Remember that not everyone is going to read every email, blog post or paper that you write. So the sooner you get to the point, the better chance you have of conveying your message and convincing the reader continuing is worth it.
Read a newspaper and you’ll see that the facts are at the top of the articles, with context and other opinion toward the bottom. This format works as it entices potential readers to carry on, or it leaves your key message with those who have no time to read your masterpiece, cannot be bothered, or are just a bit simple.
Business writing for colleagues and customers is better if you can keep the readers engaged. They are less likely to read through reams and reams of words just to get the point at the end. Instead they’ll give up halfway through, or worse, see that you’ve written loads and not bother at all. Which leads me nicely on to…
Keep it short by editing ruthlessly
Once you have written something, re-read and remove the waffle. Keep your writing to the point and compact. Why say something in 1,000 words when 50 will suffice?
By keeping your business writing short and to the point you be more likely to get you words read. Too long and it will definitely put some people off.
Write like you speak
Read what you have written aloud (or in your head if you can) as this helps you to get the pace right and check that what you have written makes sense. Think about your tone when speaking and try to bring that out in the way that you write by using punctuation and avoiding complicated sentences.
Avoid using words that you wouldn’t use when talking, replacing:
- therefore with so
- thus with so
- however with but
- in order to with to
This will make reading your business writing more enjoyable and like it has come from a human rather than a legal document.
Cut out the legal language
Leave the legal language to the lawyers and make your business writing as clear as you can. When writing for business you are trying to convey a winning idea or some brilliant news.
Include contents and sub headings in longer documents
In documents over one page, give your readers a chance to zone in on the important stuff by giving them a map. This makes the reader more likely to find the bit they want and keeps them happy – this also applies to long emails. If a colleague, manager or customer is only interested in one section, then point them to it. Don’t expect them to find stuff because they will probably give up!
Use bullet points
Introduce bullet-pointed lists in your business writing and keep the lists short. You should keep these lists at less than five points if you can. More than this and you run the risk of it looking like it will go on forever. If the list includes lots of items, then consider splitting into two or more lists with the important items in the first one.
Practice and get advice
Don’t expect to get things right first time with your business writing. Something worth doing is worth persevering over. Try some of the suggestions above then ask a trusted colleague to review and appraise your writing. It pays to think carefully about who to get to help with this — make sure that you think their writing skills are first rate and that they are going to be constructive.