Whatever industry you work in, business writing is an essential skill for you to acquire. Here’s how you do it right.
Whether you’re a project manager, supply chain manager, or marketer, it’s imperative that you know how to clearly express your ideas on paper if you are to create effective and compelling emails and reports.
If you’re one of the millions that are looking to improve your business writing, but aren’t quite sure where to start then keep on reading. Here are five easy ways to become a better writer.
Become “an attentive reader”
One of the simplest yet most effective ways to improve business writing is to become “an attentive reader”. When reading business books, start paying attention to the wording and sentence structure – it will change the way you think.
Once you understand how good writers articulate their ideas, it will be easier for you to express yourself in writing.
So, the next time you start reading a well-written book, take a few markers, and highlight the following:
• Words and phrases that you’ve not been using in your writing
• Punctuation marks (for instance, the Oxford comma) that you tend to forget to use
• Author’s writing style peculiarities (for example, repetition, contradictions, colloquialisms)
After that, analyse the highlighted text and think of how you can improve your writing. For instance, consider using highlighted phrases in your emails. You may also seek inspiration from a digital marketing agency or ask them for a service.
Focus on your reader
If you want to improve your business writing, you should first think like a reader. Instead of asking yourself, “What message do I want to deliver?” you should ask, “What message does my reader expect to receive?”
Every time you start writing an email, report, or other business document, answer the following questions:
• Who will read my writing?
• Is my reader familiar with the professional jargon I’m using?
• What is my writing goal? Do I need to inform, persuade, or entertain the reader?
Once you answer these questions, you will get an idea of how to create the text that best appeals to your reader. You will know how to adjust your writing style to get the result you expect.
Start a blog
As the saying goes, “practice makes perfect.”
Do you want to become better at business writing? Then get enough practice. Write at least two pages a day for a few months in a row. To stay motivated with your writing, consider starting a blog.
You can create a blog related to either your field of expertise or to one of your hobbies. There, you can share your knowledge and your ideas with a wide audience and get valuable feedback, isn’t that exciting?
To start a blog, you will need to do the following:
• Choose a blogging platform: WordPress, Wix, Blogger, Instagram, or any other platform you like.
• Create a content calendar. Decide how many articles you will publish per week or per month.
• Brainstorm blog post topic ideas.
• Start writing articles and publish them on a regular basis.
• Analyse your readers’ feedback and work on your mistakes.
Take advantage of new technologies
There are plenty of good writing websites and tools out there. Don’t hesitate to take advantage of them.
For mastering business writing skills, use the following:
• Online grammar checkers
• Readability checkers
• Online thesaurus and dictionaries
• Jargon graders
• Tone analysers
Why is it so important to leverage new technologies? Well, you can’t adequately estimate the quality of your own writings. And you need someone’s help to catch your mistakes and track your progress.
Online tools will help you to spot writing mistakes that you otherwise wouldn’t pick up on. For instance, if you use Grammarly, an online proofreading tool, the system will notify you about spelling errors and typos in your text.
In other words, writing and proofreading tools will help you identify your “weaknesses” and turn them into your “strengths”. For example, if you currently have a poor vocabulary, you can start using an online dictionary. In a few months, your vocabulary will get twice as large, aiding you in taking your business writing skills to the next level.
Enrol in a business writing course
If you like to study online, check out available business writing courses at Udemy, Coursera, and other educational platforms. Read course descriptions, check reviews, compare different options, and then choose a course that is the perfect fit for you and your needs.
The good news is that some educational platforms offer courses for free. So even if you currently don’t have money to invest in your business writing skill, it’s not an issue.
Basic tips on how to improve business writing
Do you want to improve your business writing skills right here and right now? Here are eight handy tips for you:
• Think before you write. Formulate sentences in your head before writing them down.
• Reduce wordiness. Substitute complex phrases with one word, if possible. For instance, use the word “because” instead of “in light of the fact that”.
• Avoid jargon and buzzwords – these words don’t add value to your readers.
• Be direct and express your ideas clearly. Make sure your main point is right upfront.
• Proofread what you write. Always. Even short emails and text messages.
• Encourage feedback. Don’t be afraid to be criticised. Ask your colleagues what they think of your business writing style.
• Create a clear, logical structure. Present a key idea first, then discuss the main points, and only after that discuss the small details.
• Use headlines and bulleted lists. Make the text skimmable.
It’s time to become proficient in business writing
It doesn’t really matter how high or low your current level of business writing skills are. If you work hard, you will achieve excellent results.
Set a goal to become a better writer and be dedicated to that goal. And don’t hesitate to take the first step today. Start working on your first writing assignment right after you finish reading this article.