Good business writing has been important to most industries since the first time someone scribbled down a sales report on a piece of parchment and handed it over to the Laird of the Castle.
Tweet: How does business writing differ from other types of writing? In short, it is professional communication written for the purpose of imparting information to the internal or external audience of a business.
Types of Business Writing
Business writing includes a number of different types of documents and letters. Among these are:
- Sales reports
- Strategic Plans
- Business proposals
- White Papers
- Business blog posts
- Employee policy manuals and e-guides
- Business emails and letters
- Press releases
Each of these documents have a different focus and purpose, and for the next few months, I will go over each type of business writing and touch on the differences.
Despite their different purposes, however, some important key elements are common to all business writing styles. In order to make sure that your business writing gets your point across in a clear, professional tone that gets results, it helps to know these key elements.
Here, then are 10 useful secrets to amazing business writing.
Business Writing must be readable.
People do most of their reading on the fly as they are waiting for something. They prefer content that is friendly, clear, concise and easy to skim through. This means brief, simple prose in short paragraphs. Try to avoid complex run-on sentences. Consequently, if you have more than three or four commas in your sentence, you can probably trim it up a little.
Break up your text to make it easier to skim.
Use headings, sub-heading and bullet points to organize your information. People who read quickly do so in blocks of information, rather than in individual words. So, by dividing the article or report into blocks of text with clear headings, it is easier to assimilate. This also makes it easier to pick out key points.
Get to the point.
A reader will decide within the first couple of sentences whether the article is one they want to continue reading. State up front what you are writing about, and then move quickly to why you are writing about your subject. Let your reader know precisely what to expect.
Make sure your spelling, grammar and punctuation are flawless.
Nothing destroys the credibility of an article or business letter faster than a spelling or grammatical error, or one too many spaces after the end of a sentence. Do the spellcheck and use any editing tools at your disposal. Read it aloud to yourself, if necessary, to pick out any anomalies. Make it perfect. Grammarly offers a free tool that can help. ProWritingAid offers several different options for editing software, one of which is free.
Know your audience.
By understanding your readers, you can tailor your article, report or letter to them. Speak directly to your audience and address their concerns. This way, you stand a better chance of keeping them engaged and interested. How do you get to know your audience? Read this excellent article by Timothy Carter on Marketingland.com
Avoid over-used words and clichés.
When you use the same tired phrases that are used everywhere else, your readers feel like they have already heard this information. Work to expand your vocabulary. Look for fresh ways to address the same information. Every MS Word document has a built-in Thesaurus, which can help you find different ways to say the same thing. Alternatively, you can look up a good Thesaurus on-line.
Entertain and inform your readers.
Good business writing tells a story that engages and entertains the readers, therefore, include interesting facts, examples and testimonials if you can. Use humor if it is appropriate. Be creative. Draw in your audience and give them plenty of value for their time. Stay up to date on your subject and know your facts. Graphics and infographics are a good way to capture the attention of your audience with blocks of interesting information. There are a number of good apps and programs that help you create infographics. For some ideas, take a look at this post at Creative Blog.
Stay focused on your topic.
The best way to make sure you stay on topic in your article or report is to start with an outline. Eliminate any information that does not relate directly to your topic. If you tell stories, make sure they are relevant to your subject. Resist the urge to add details that have little to do with your subject. When you do a final edit on your report or article, be ruthless. Ask yourself, “does this relate directly to my subject” If not, cut it out of the text. For some tips on how to create good outline, have a look at this article on skilledup.com
Have a beginning, a middle and an end.
Once you state what you are going to write about, start with a broad overview of your subject. Next, address general details and main points. Finally, move on to the point-by-point examples, specific details or individual items. Finish with a conclusion that sums up what you covered. If it is a part of your article or report, end with one call to action that gives your readers their next steps.
Learn to work with social media skills.
We live in a world that relies on social media for much of its information. Learn how to grab your reader’s attention with short, fact-filled phrases. Use power words, as well as words and phrases that address your reader’s needs and wants. Here is a great list of power words from Smart Blogger.
In conclusion, amazing business writing is a skill that is worth your time to learn. There is a lot of information available on the subject, but the best way to learn is by doing.
However, if you find that you don’t have the time to commit to cranking out regular blog posts, articles or other forms of business writing, hire a professional; like me, for example. I would be happy to help you take your business documents to the next level of amazing.
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In addition, let me know if I can help you with some articles, blog posts or even with some editing or proofreading of your own writing. Check out my home page for more information.