How is Business Writing different from usual writing?
Business Writing is not regular communication between friends and acquaintances. It is the communication exchanged within business units, colleagues, clients, governing bodies and external business associates.
Business Writing is expressing an idea or information in the most precise and formal way, backed by facts. But that’s not all. With changing times, the mode of Business Writing has changed and so has the reader’s mind set.
Various common forms of Business writing are- Official emails, Sales or Performance Reports, Whitepapers, Business Plans, Proposals etc.
Why is Business Writing an important skill?
Be it a Senior Management level employee or a fresher, it is a common notion amongst everyone that Business Writing skills are secondary. Many do not give it due importance because it is not directly linked to their professional goals. However, Business Writing plays a crucial role in determining your success at work.
A clear and effective written communication shows your ability to think clearly and coherently. This is an essential attribute of a good team player and a Manager. It sets you apart from others and you emerge as a confident worker, fully in control of your thoughts.
Here are 5 ways in which you can gain mastery on Business Writing skills in today’s time:
(1) Identify your goal
Before beginning any communication focus on your goal or intent of the communication. Is it a sales report? A Whitepaper? An email to senior management? A letter designating duties to juniors? Or a business proposal? Identifying the goal of the communication helps you to pick the right words and style of writing. Once you know who the reader is, it becomes easier for you to collect your thoughts and organise it into the piece of writing.
(2) Get straight to the point
The old school method of writing is dated and doesn’t hold true for the corporate world. The basic structure of introduction, body and conclusion is no longer appreciated. We stay in a fast-paced world where everyone is pressed for time, so it is essential to convey the core thought in the opening sentence itself.
Expressing the main idea in the very beginning hooks on the readers and also helps you to support your argument with sharp facts. If the piece of writing is an in-depth one, say a Whitepaper or a Research Report, summarizing the main elements and enlisting the key pointers help you score better.
(3) Choose your words carefully
Difficult or big words are not necessarily a sign of intelligence. Today most of the communication takes place in emails or office group chats which doesn’t have room for grand words or jargons. The words should be short while the sentences should be crisp and as lucid as possible. Avoid vague, repetitive and passive words as much as possible. In our daily oral communications, we may use a lot of jargons or industry specific words but in written communication, use them minimally. If at all it is used, try to include its meaning in a glossary or footnote later.
Another very important and relevant point in the modern world is the blatant usage of ‘lingo’. These words or emojis used in casual communication on social media and online messages are also making an appearance in formal emails. This is a complete no-no and you must avoid it totally.
(4) Back your idea with the necessary facts
When expressing an idea you must try to support each point with relevant facts. These facts and figures add weightage to your idea and lends authenticity. While quoting facts, be careful to mention its source and include only relevant ones, don’t go overboard with them.
(5) Use tools to improve your writing
Thanks to the tech age, you are flooded with online tools and apps which help you to get your Business Writing right. While the core work has to be done by you, these tools are here to make your task easier. Some of these tools are- Grammarly (grammar checker), WhiteSmoke (Grammar and syntax checker), Docstoc (Commonly used business letter templates), Enloop (Business Plan template software), etc.
(6) Pay attention to your tone
It is very important to maintain a strictly formal and respectful tone in your business writing. Whether you are responding to an irate client, addressing your team or sharing a report with your seniors, you must maintain a polite and official tone. Avoid being too personal or expressing your grudge or appreciation overtly. You also need to be careful about using the punctuation marks. Too many exclamations, too many question marks or usage of capital letters irritate the reader and distracts them from the core message.
Aim at constant learning
These are some of the practical tips to improve your business writing skills. These tips, when implemented regularly, will help you to communicate better and make a better impact. However, there is no end to improvement. Keep a watch on the latest trends in official communication and strive for continuous improvement.