Most of us engage in some form of business writing every day. We use it to communicate with our employees, coworkers, managers, stakeholders, and clients. Emails, reports, blogs, and client proposals are examples of correspondence when our skill at business writing should shine.
There are four main types of business writing: informational, instructional, persuasive, and transactional. Below are my top 10 tips for effective business writing.
- Have a purpose
Craft a comprehensive message including all the relevant information—the where, when, why, who and how—and include an explanation of any action your want the reader to take. Clarifying these elements will help you focus on the most important points.
- Use concise language
Share your ideas succinctly and avoid wordiness. The reader should be able to quickly scan an email or document and find the information they need.
- Keep your writing free of errors
Read through and revise every document before sending it to the recipient to correct any grammar, spelling, or punctuation mistakes.
- Know your audience
Your writing will be more effective if you understand your audience and align your language to their interests. Choose your vocabulary and tone based on who will be reading the communication.
- Organize ideas thoughtfully
Your message should include an introduction, body, and close. Add transitional words or phrases for better flow and ensure parallel construction between paragraphs for greater comprehension.
- Be direct
Don’t bury the main point at the end. Start each piece of business writing with the most critical information up front.
- State facts vs. opinions
Build trust and credibility by supporting your writing with data and statistics. If you add an opinion, make sure your reader knows it is your perspective to avoid confusion. The primary goal of business writing is to convey valuable information. Inaccurate or irrelevant content dilutes the purpose of the document.
- Avoid vague and weak language
Scan your document and eliminate words such as, “just,” “possibly,” “actually,” etc. in favor of concrete information such data, dates and deadlines.
- Use simple formatting
Use clean and professional fonts and sizes, bulleted lists, clear headings, and concise paragraphs to enhance your message and make the document easier to read.
- Read more
Becoming a great business writer takes regular practice and focus. Pay attention to vocabulary, sentence structure, and writing style while you’re reading for business or personal reasons to help develop those same instincts in your writing.
Good business writing begins with considerate planning and ends with attentive revision. The next time you’re drafting an email, a proposal, or meeting minutes, use these ten essentials as a guide to ensure your message comes through professionally and clearly.