As business writing professionals know, writing sits at the backbone of professional communication. Writing provides a vehicle for professionals to share ideas and implement action across a variety of formats—from brief emails, social media posts, and marketing materials to longer correspondence and business documents. When communicating professionally, it is essential to write succinctly, correctly, and with purpose to convey your intended message, prompt action, and attain results.
The following business writing strategies will ensure your purpose and message aren’t lost in the shuffle. This simple list of professional writing pointers will help you present your thoughts with confidence, clarity, and success— so that you no longer dread writing when it inevitably comes your way.
1. Know Your Purpose and Audience:
Purpose: Consider why you are writing the piece and what outcome you desire from your audience. Is the piece informational, argumentative, or entertaining?
Tone: Is it conversational or formal?
Relevancy: Keep it pertinent so the audience stays invested, involved, and interested.
2. Prewrite and Plan:
Prewrite: Identify your message; think about what you want you want to say. Include your purpose as a clearly-worded statement. This will be your main idea, and the rest of the piece should maintain focus around this.
Organize: Outline your paragraphs in order of importance, saving the most essential or convincing information for last.
Plan: Make sure each paragraph has its own idea that links back to or supports your main idea. If you’ve covered it elsewhere, leave it out or combine the two to avoid repetition.
3. Get to the Point…and Stay on Point:
Start: After a quick but interesting lead-in, get to the main idea/purpose first, then follow with supporting details, facts, and quantities that illustrate your point.
Summarize: Move along quickly, cover only what is essential, and stick to key points only. Keep it simple so you don’t lose your audience.
Pique Interest: Weave in a story or personal account for interest, so the audience is entertained and can identify with your perspective. However, don’t veer off topic or overpower your message, essential information, or take-away.
End with Action: End with a call to action. What do you want your audience to do after receiving this information? What is your goal? This should be a clear message that aligns with the main idea.
4. Use Proper Language:
Word Choice: Avoid jargon, confusing acronyms with multiple or uncommon meanings, and complicated words that may cloud your information. Steer clear of slang and discriminatory language.
Action: Use active voice and strong verbs; have someone doing something, rather than having someone receive the action.
Specifics: Include quantities (statistics and data) and facts to illustrate your points while avoiding generalizations, broad adjectives, and opinions. Make sure your points are valid and backed up with specifics to add legitimacy to your message.
5. Rewrite and Proofread:
Review: Check your organization, sentence structure, spelling, grammar, word choice, and punctuation.
Clarify: Is your message clear, direct, and focused throughout the piece?
Proofread: Have someone else read it and give you constructive feedback. Read it aloud to catch errors.
6. Use Writing Resources:
Take advantage of the following professional resources for guidance on perfecting your writing.
Purdue OWL, General Writing Pointers: writing process, formatting, grammar, and mechanics, https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/section/1/
Purdue OWL, Workplace Writers: effective workplace writing, language usage, reader-centered focus, and audience analysis, https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/681/01/
Grammarly: free writing assistance app, www.grammarly.com
Business Writing for Dummies by Natalie Canavor, 2017 edition
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All About Writing’s blog posts offer plenty of writing pointers: “Business and Professional Writing” offer plenty of writing pointers(https://allaboutwritingconsulting.com/category/business-professional-writing/), “Ways to Improve Your Writing” (https://allaboutwritingconsulting.com/category/ways-to-improve-your-writing/), and “Writing Help in a Hurry!” (https://allaboutwritingconsulting.com/category/writing-help-in-a-hurry/).
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-by Christa Riddle