Business Writing | Definition, Benefits & Tips | Resume.com
- What is business writing?
- Why is business writing important?
- Benefits of effective business writing
- Tips to improve business writing
Business writing is an essential part of communication in the workplace. Consider the amount of information you exchange via verbal conversation compared with what you exchange via email, memos, and other text-based interactions. In this article, you can review some of the benefits and tips to improve your business writing and so you can communicate successfully in a professional manner at work.
What is business writing?
Business writing is professional communication consisting of emails, letters, memos, reports, and other documents used within the workplace. Usually, taking a professional, formal tone, writing for business enables employees to communicate efficiently within their organizations as well as communicating with other professionals outside the company, such as vendors or clients.
Why is business writing important?
Whether through email, internal memos, or business letters, proposals, and invoices, writing is arguably the most important communication tool in business. As such, writing for business needs to be done effectively in order to ensure smooth interactions and avoid costly misunderstandings.
Benefits of effective business writing
Here is a list of the most common benefits of good business writing.
Since most people interact with your company through written content, whether they’re browsing your website, catching up with your social media, or reading an email from your company, the quality of writing heavily influences the public’s perception of your brand.
Well-written marketing copy and client interactions, including proposals, play an important role in increasing sales. These interactions, when written well, show how professional, competent, and capable your company’s employees are. This helps to create a favorable first impression and helps you generate more sales.
More effective collaboration and higher productivity
No matter what task you’re working on during the average workday, there is a good chance that it involves some form of written communication. Effective business writing skills help to improve the clarity of the communication that takes place between employees, which leads to more effective collaboration and breeds innovation. Productivity can improve as writing is less of a struggle and thus takes far less time to do.
Positive impact on employees
Well-honed writing skills help employees on an individual level by bringing them more confidence and can lead to higher productivity, higher sales commissions, and even promotions. Overall, effective business writing has the capability to make the difference between a mediocre business and an exceptional one.
Tips to improve business writing
Here are some helpful tips to improve your business writing.
Present your idea in as few words as possible while remaining clear and thorough. People tend to lose interest if it takes too long to get to the point of your communication, so be sure to leave out unnecessary chatter. A specific call to action, such as Send me a calendar invitation to meet at your earliest availability can be helpful in getting straight to the point.
Consider your audience
Think about the recipient of your communication and who they are as a communicator. Write to his or her style of absorbing information. For example, if you’re writing an email to your boss, think first about his typical response to emails. If he’s extremely busy, present your information in simple, concise bullet points. This will make your email quickly scannable and get your message across while respecting your boss’s time.
Use an active voice
Taking an active voice in your written communication can help you present yourself as confident, decisive, and capable. For example, consider this statement, This plan could use some clarification in comparison to Let’s meet tomorrow to discuss clarification of the plan. The first statement could be interpreted as passive, whereas the second statement sounds much more active and confident.
Perfect your tone
In a professional setting, you are, of course, expected to communicate in a professional manner. However, taking a tone that is overly formal can be off-putting and may seem pretentious. Balancing your tone requires knowing your audience and what their expectations are. For coworkers, it is usually appropriate to take a professional yet conversational tone in your daily interactions.
Vague statements about being the best in the business are immediately dismissed because they are empty words. Instead, back your claims of being the best in the business with solid, proven facts that you can present to the recipient of your communication. Numbers, testimonials, ratings, and reviews can and should be cited to back any claims you intend to make.
Before you send any communication, whether via email or distributed as hard copy, always proofread your writing. The best way to catch every mistake is to read the document aloud to yourself rather than rely solely on built-in spelling and grammar checkers. This way, if a word is accidentally left out of a sentence, you hear the awkwardness and can correct the error before sending out the communication.
Create a checklist
To help you get used to writing for business, create a checklist to make sure you’ve not missed anything in your message. Some things to check for include clarity, brevity, perspective, tone, voice, spelling, punctuation, and grammar. Writing this list on a small piece of paper and taping it on your computer monitor can help you quickly ensure you have addressed everything.
Use plain language
Every industry has its own set of acronyms, abbreviations, and jargon. However, when it comes to communicating externally, these terms can confuse people. The same can be said for overly complicated wording and slang. Focus on using simple, plain language to make your point so that the attention remains on what you say rather than how you say it.
Ask for feedback
Talk to a colleague you feel comfortable with and ask him or her to provide feedback about your writing style. They might balk at the suggestion that they critique you in any way, but assure them that it is constructive criticism and will make you better at your job. If they give you feedback you don’t agree with, simply keep it in mind for future written correspondence. They could be right, and you may never have noticed without their help.
Use your words
When writing in a professional setting, write out full words rather than using symbols or shorthand. Even more importantly, avoid using emojis in any professional communication. As workplaces have gotten somewhat more casual and electronic communication much more prevalent in the past decade, it can be tempting to shorten your messages with abbreviations or symbols or clarify your tone using a smiley face. Refraining from doing this is always recommended.
Address recipients properly
Be very sure of the recipient’s gender to avoid an awkward situation that is highly embarrassing for both you and the recipient of your communication. Referring to Mr. Jones as Ms. Jones in your letter or email can potentially cost you and your company the relationship with Mr. Jones. If you are unsure, try to find out ahead of time by asking someone who knows them. The same goes for the spelling of their name.
If you tend to write the same type of email to several people very often, it can be helpful to keep a template of the letter in a Word document on your computer. This will reduce the time you spend typing emails and help you avoid unnecessary typos. But don’t use this as an excuse to skip proofreading. Always proofread. The minute or so that it takes can save you from a lot of potential damage.
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