5 Writing Tips For Business
August 10, 2016
Business writing, like all forms of writing, can’t be sloppy, unfocused, or lack structure. As a writer, I get numerous questions about writing techniques. It doesn’t matter whether you are writing creative nonfiction, a business proposal, or content for a website, there are numerous tips. In this post, we will focus on five.
Know Your Audience – it is nearly impossible to tailor a message unless you know your audience. For example, a business proposal being submitted to the head of marketing should be written differently than one being presented to outside investors.
Use an Active Voice – using a passive voice (often relying on the verb to be) moves the object of the action into the role of the subject. This then creates a lack of clarity. Let me give you an example:
Passive Voice: The underperforming division was sold by the President.
Verb: Was sold
Object: Underperforming division
Notice that when written using a passive voice, the verb and subject come at the end of the sentence and the object comes first. While not grammatically incorrect, it lacks clarity.
Active Voice: The President sold the underperforming division.
When written using an active voice, the subject and the verb are at the beginning and the object follows. This offers much more clarity.
Commonly Misspelled or Confused Words – there are numerous websites outlining the difference between there, their, and they’re or affect vs. effect. If you want to figure out which ones might trip you up, take this quiz offered by Washington State University - Link: http://public.wsu.edu/~campbelld.amlit/quiz/usage.htm
Endings Really Are Just the Beginning – the ending of most forms of business writing should be a call to action. In an email, you might ask the recipient to respond by a certain day, in a proposal you might ask the reader(s) to make a decision, etc. Don’t let your business writing fall flat. If the recipient is not clear what should happen next – it is the writer’s fault.
Leave Time to Edit – you can craft the most persuasive proposal, nail your target audience, use an active voice, but if you don't leave time to read it and re-read it, i.e. edit it, then you risk sending or submitting work that may not flow well, contains embarrassing typos, or contains flawed sentence structure. Those writing snafus reflect on you and your job performance.
Which of these tips do you most need to apply to your business writing?