5 Tips For Effective Business Writing
by McKenna Parkinson
Most businesspeople spend the majority of their day reading and writing emails, texts, pitches, proposals and even Slack messages. With employees collaborating from miles away, businesses are increasingly using written communication. However, studies show that the content being produced is not as effective as it should be.
A 2016 survey by Josh Bernoff reports that 81% of businesspeople said poorly written material wastes a significant amount of their time at work.
The study then goes on to say that this terrible writing is “costing American businesses nearly $400 billion every year.”
Since writing is crucial to how businesses function, spending this much time reading things that don’t make sense is a waste of money.
So how can you make a change and strengthen your business writing skills?
Here are 5 tips to help you become a more effective business writer.
1. Know your audience and know your message
Who is it that you are writing to? What’s in it for them? Knowing this information will help you appeal to your audience’s needs and anticipate issues or questions they may have with the message you are presenting. It will also make it clear why what they are reading is important to them.
When it comes to the message, you should be able to summarize it in one sentence. If you can’t do that, there’s a good chance it’s too complicated and may confuse the reader. Know the exact points you want the audience to understand and stick to them. You should be able to tie every sentence you write back to your main point.
2. Stay away from cliches, slang and jargon
“Only time will tell.” “A diamond in the rough.” “In the nick of time.” These are all cliches that we have heard a million times. Although everyone understands them, they are overused and will bore your reader. Instead, come up with an original metaphor. Something that will catch their attention and stick in their mind. But don’t forget to keep it to the point.
Although you don’t want to sound too stiff in your writing, slang words are never the answer. It makes your content sound sloppy and unprofessional. You also run the risk of your audience not understanding.
When it comes to jargon, keep your audience in mind. If you are writing to another department, keep the verbiage simple and in terms they understand. Don’t overcomplicate the message you want to send by putting in words only experts use. You’ll lose them before you even have them.
3. Practice tight writing
Less is more in business writing. No one wants to waste their time searching through unnecessary words to find the meaning of what you are trying to say. Avoid adding flowery language or multiple adjectives that only serve the purpose of adding to the word count. Practice by writing out the first draft. Then, read through it and take out all words that don’t contribute to your message. You can also have someone else read through it with fresh eyes to make sure the content is clear. This will keep things concise.
4. Keep it simple and plain
Keeping your writing simple helps the reader take away the essential information quickly. Use bolding to exaggerate the main points and calls to action. Use list and bullet points to keep things less wordy. Also, remember that white space is your friend. Breaking up large paragraphs makes things less intimidating.
When it comes to subject lines, be straightforward. The subject line of an email or title of a document should be around 25-30 characters. If your main message can be wrapped up in one sentence, this shouldn’t be hard to do. You want the reader to know exactly what they are going to read about before they begin reading.
5. Be active
In business writing, show the action that your company or client is taking. You want your subject to be the main character. Stay away from using passive voice by putting the subject in the spotlight. This will bring your writing to life.
Business writing is important in today’s world but most people are not doing it right. It is a difficult skill to master but extremely valuable.
If you’re struggling with writing for your business, reach out to Relic+EKR. We have a team of writing experts that can save your company millions of dollars in wasted time and make your product or service shine.