More business than ever is now conducted through writing, rather than face to face. Twenty years ago, you may have walked down the hall or held a meeting to talk to someone, but now you're more likely to fire off an email. This shift in business culture means strong business writing skills are more important than ever before.
In fact, Inc. estimates that businesses spend as much as $3.1 billion dollars each year on remedial writing training for employees. Yes, that’s billion with a ‘B.’
If you're worried about your skills, you’re not alone. It's easy to brush up on the fundamentals and learn the tricks to communicate more effectively in writing. These tips will show you how.
1. Be Clear & Concise
The first thing you need to learn is how to be clear in what you say. Everyone you communicate with is busy, dealing with overflowing inboxes every day. That means you need to be explicit in conveying your message, or you risk your email finding the trash folder a little too quickly.
A good way of doing this is to put your main point in the first sentence of your message. For example, if you need to arrange a meeting, your first sentence could be, “Can we arrange a meeting on Friday morning?” You can then use the rest of the message to add contextual details the reader needs to know.
2. Know Your Audience
Different people in varying roles across other businesses and your own require different style of writing. In the same way you tailor a business pitch differently depending on who you’re talking to, you should keep your audience in mind when it comes to all business writing.
Take it from John Galloway, a writer at Custom Paper Writing Service:
You'll be writing to all kinds of different people, especially when you're just starting up. Think about all the people you'll be coming into contact with on an average day. You may be talking to customers, investors, suppliers, and more. The way you talk with each of these groups will be different, so be aware of the audience and their needs as you write.
3. Plan Your Approach
Before you start writing, plan what you're going to say. This applies to any kind of writing – from blog posts to email to business plans.
The best message is one that's direct and to the point. You want to get your point across without belaboring it, so it never hurts to plan what you'll write.
The best way to do this is to write a draft or outline of the key points you need to hit on. Write it, come away from it for a while, and then come back. You can see where your message works, and what needs adjusting before the message is sent.
4. Take Advantage of Online Tools
You don't have to create all of your messages on your own. There's plenty of online tools that can give you the edge in your business writing. Try some of these the next time you're writing:
State of Writing: This tool is full of helpful writing guides. A good place to start if you're feeling stuck.
Hemingway App: Ensure your writing is strong and conveys a powerful message. This tool will help you crush things that weaken writing, like passive voice and overuse of adverbs.
Essayroo: It's not enough to write good messages, you've got to ensure that they're polished, too. This service will edit any messages you send their way.
Type My Essay: This writing service can work with you on your writing, and help you send effective messages.
Email Excellence: This tool features many email templates that you can use to create effective emails.
5. Edit and Edit Again
Once you've written a draft, don't send it off right away. If you're following these tips, then you’ll have a draft you can work with. When you come back to the draft, take a look for areas that can be improved – particularly the strength & clarity.
Don't just edit once, either. Take the time to go over the message a few times, really paying attention to what can be changed to make the message more effective. Try reading out loud – you’ll be amazed what you catch just by vocalizing what you’ve written – and ask a third party to lend another pair of eyes.
6. Use Online Courses to Improve Your Skills
The beauty of the digital age is that you can find online courses to improve any number of skills. Choose from thousands of e-courses that you can take at your own pace – plenty of which are even free to take.
Try these recommendations on for size:
High-Impact Business Writing│Coursera
7. Have Someone Else Read Your Writing
It's hard to get better at writing if you're not getting feedback. One of the best ways to see where you need to improve is to have someone else read your writing. This can either be a professional from one of the above sites, or a trusted friend or colleague.
Whoever it is, ask them to check your writing and offer feedback. They can spot the issues that might be in your blindspot and help you get them edited.
8. Don't be Afraid to Get Creative
You may not think creativity has a place in business writing, but you'd be surprised. The more creative your writing is, the more likely it is that your reader is going to pay attention to it. After all, they read thousands of words online every day – you need to give them a reason to give you the time of day.
This is especially important when it comes to writing for customers. When you're creating content for them, you need to tell a story – give them a reason to root for you. If you can be creative and interesting in how you write to them, they'll be more likely to buy from you.
9. Be Accurate
Whatever you're writing, you need to ensure that you're getting your facts straight. A small mistake may not seem like much now, but they can really become a problem later down the line.
For example, you may refer to a customer by the title 'Mrs,' but they're actually 'Mr.' It's an honest mistake, but it can cause a lot of confusion and even upset for a lot of people. The same goes for misspelling names (especially if they’re right in front of you). If you're careful about checking the facts, you can minimize these incidents.
10. Write More
Finally, the most important tip when you're improving your business writing is to keep writing. It's just like any other skill, the more you practice, the better you'll get. The results are worth it when you see just how much you've improved – and when those skills begin to make a real difference for your business.
Write Those Wrongs
With the tips above, you can actually improve your business writing. You'll be amazed at how much of a difference it can make for you and your business. Give them a try and see for yourself.