Emails, proposals, reports and memorandums make up some examples of business writing. The activity is about professionally communicating information.
Business writing is a large and growing area, expanding along with text-based communication. Doing it well is the key to building a solid web presence and making your company more influential. As a writer, you need to follow the business principle that the user experience is what comes first.
If your business writing skills have been missing the mark, here are five tips to ensure they are spot on.
1. Get straight to the point
Long ago, 2000-word features proved popular with the masses. But, these days, many are struggling to make it past 500 words. So conciseness is of the essence.
The statistics show a dwindling reading culture as many now prefer to watch videos instead. It’s generally best to stick to short sentences (like news writing), do away with flowery prose and use words sparingly.
2. Steer clear of jargon
Often in business writing, you’re targeting audiences with little know-how on the technical aspects of your solution, so it’s best to stick to plain language that is understandable to all. Phrases like “strategical synergies” and other corporate lingo are best reserved for the workplace or dispensed with altogether.
3. Avoid typos
Typos and grammatical errors are bad enough in casual writing, but they carry even more weight when they appear in a business document. Readers are more judgemental of the latter, especially if the text makes it into printed copy. So, there is no room for error.
You need to proofread your writing, not once, not twice, but until there are no mistakes for readers to find. You can turn to a professional grammar checker for help with that.
4. Be gender neutral
In the contemporary business environment, your writing has to be gender-neutral. Because terms like “chairman” or “salesman” raise eyebrows, play it safe by using gender-conscious alternatives such as “chairperson” and what have you. Also, avoid the singular pronouns instead use “their” or “they” even when referring to a single subject in a sentence as this has become an acceptable practice across writing niches.
5. Answer the 5 W’s and the H
Business writing is a lot like journalistic writing in that it needs to take care of several questions that go through the reader’s mind when reading the piece. These include what, where, how, why, when, and who. The 5W+H concept has become a general rule of thumb in business writing because of its commendable effectiveness.
6. Avoid giving multiple choices
If your writing requires the reader’s input, it’s prudent to stick to no more than two-choice answers. Multiple selections can leave them stranded with a case of decision paralysis, and ultimately you won’t achieve your objective.
7. Be professional
Many mistake formality for professionalism when, in fact, informal writing can also be just as professional. However, there is a thin line between unprofessional and professional when you decide to take the casual route. Stay in the safe zone by avoiding snarky gossip, off-color jokes and personal comments. If in doubt, it is generally safer to err on the side of formality.
Last, but not least, you could opt to hire a freelance business writer. If you don’t have the desire nor the time for it, an extra pair of experienced hands can take care of those wiki entries, blog posts, training manuals, memos and so forth so that you can focus on your business.