If you thought that once you graduated, got a job, and put in a few years hard work that you'd never have to have another writing lesson, think again. You spent years perfecting your academic writing, pulling off beautiful research papers that earned you top marks in class. When it comes to writing in a business setting, a whole new list of rules applies. Don't mistake the importance of effective business writing! The way you write can earn you new business, maybe a promotion OR your writing could very well lose you your job. Here are six easy tips for better writing skills:
1. Keep it simple! Gone are the days when your teachers were asking for higher level adjectives and beautiful imagery. When you're writing to effectively communicate some idea or directive, you want to use straight forward language. Lose the academic words like "disseminate" or "henceforth." Also avoid using technical jargon, buzzwords and acronyms. They may sound clever but are more often perceived as annoying. You want the message to stand on its own without the flowery descriptors.
2. Any piece of writing you produce should sound decisive and strong. Use concise language and take out any phrasing that comes across as wishy-washy. For example, instead of saying "I intend to follow up with Sarah for the reports we discussed," say "I will follow up with Sarah by next week." This gives the impression that you are doing something instead of thinking about taking action. Use an active voice when writing to put confidence into the words.
3. If you need to incorporate statistics into your copy, do so with correct information! Do not make up statistics as you no doubt had at least one teacher instruct you to do. You'll end up looking like you don't know what you are talking about. Instead of the poor phrase "We provide the best customer service," get some testimony to back that statement up! Were you rated by an organization or poll for best customer service? Make sure to reference the correct data in your writing.
4. Technology is fantastic and makes so many tasks easier but do not rely on your grammar or spell check. Editing tools will not pick up a word as incorrect if you spelled it correctly. Maybe you accidentally typed "Witch" instead of "Which". In this case, you did not spell a word incorrectly, and you may not be notified of the error. Always make sure to print a copy and check it yourself. Reading it aloud will pinpoint awkward phrasing and check for spelling by working from the end back, looking at each word individually.
While there are numerous other rules to follow when it comes to writing effectively for business, these four tips are the first step to cleaning up your written word. By following these tips, you'll produce stronger more effective communication, enhancing the quality of your work and getting your point across in a clearer manner.
Any other writing tips you have to share?