Business writing skills improvement techniquesIf you are already under pressure at work, the thought of “studying” could make you blow a fuse. However, the irony is that having the skills to create interesting, succinct, and clear sentences will propel your sales and differentiate your brand. Your workload could ultimately decrease. Great ideas are only great when heard and understood by others. Not being able to do this is the death of many a good idea. Effective writing is a skill or talent that people are rarely born with. Fortunately, it is one that you can cultivate as an autodidact and through consistent practice. We propose the following approach to improved skills:
Attentive readingThis is the simplest and most effective way to improving your skills! As you read business books, you will see the grammar, style, and sentence structure. You will see how arguments are built and will cultivate new thought processes. Observe these elements of what you read:
- New words and phrases that you haven’t used
- The usage of punctuation marks
- The writing style, e.g. contradictions, repetition, conclusion types.
Visualise your readerFocus on who you are writing to before writing the message. Whether it’s a report, email, or another business document, consider what the reader is expecting and ask these questions:
- Who am I writing for?
- Is the reader familiar with the words / technical phrases I’m using?
- What is my goal? Persuasion, thought leadership, or entertainment?
Start a blogPractice makes perfect, and preparation brings good luck. Good writing comes with 2 – 3 pages a day continuously. Starting a blog is a long term writing motivator. You can write your business, a hobby, or a passion project. You need the following to start a blog:
- An online content management system, e.g. Blogger, WordPress, Wix, etc
- Establish a forecast content calendar of how many articles you will publish per month.
- Research blog topic ideas.
- Review the feedback and learn from mistakes.
TechnologyThere are a plethora of websites and tools to assist with business communication productivity and performance. Take advantage of the relevant ones, such as:
- Readability reviewers
- Tone analysers
- Grammar checkers
Be directOne of the biggest blunders that business writers make is switching focus in the middle section of the writing. Present your main idea clearly, back it up, and then expound on it in the body section. Long proposals or documents don’t need a turgid first page. Conciseness is always the better choice.
Jargon risksAcronyms, buzzwords, and tech-speak proliferate in the business world. Whilst sometimes unavoidable, they may indicate cluttered thinking or a lack of effort to “translate” for an audience. Jargon seldom adds value, so focus on being succinct and clear.
Read what you writeRead what you write and check if your points are well-structured and clear. Read it aloud to find flaws such as a lack of flow, inconsistent or confused arguments, and overly long-winded paragraphs. It can be beneficial to ask a colleague, or trusted associate, to read your work if the document is important enough to warrant it. Of course, you could ask them to review unimportant documents, so an important one needs less redoing. Be open to the feedback given by them, it’s free and honest, and if chosen carefully, they represent your target audience. Do this often, and it will be one of the best ways that will help you improve your skill.
Daily writingWriting is a skill, and like all other skills, such as riding a bicycle or flying a plane, it is improved through practice, focus, and consistency. Reading well-written articles needs to be a daily commitment. Observe the words, the strength of opinions, the representation of different points of view, sentence lengths, and the amount of attention spent on different subtopics. Then when you sit down to write, pay attention to the words you choose, the structure, and the flow. See if there are lessons you have learnt from your reading that day that might be applicable. Once you have written your piece, take the time for careful proofreading and editing after writing. Tip: editing is done first, then proofreading.
Develop your skillsDeveloping yourself takes planning. Developing your writing takes planning. Plan what you will write about, focus on keeping your sentences short and direct. Refer to your ‘notes library’ frequently.
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