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Writing for Business: What Should be Done?

Created: February 26th, 2014 (13:32)
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Writing for Business: What Should be Done?

Communication is something so subtle and natural, that we rarely even ponder about its insensible presence in our lives. Thanks to modern technology, we can communicate with dozens of people at the same time, no matter where we are. Not only is it advantageous for private communication, but also for developing and maintaining business relationship. Growing online presence, however, has changed the  way we communicate, shifting the focus from face-to-face communication to indirect contact through different online channels. It has urged people to read and write more than actually speak, therefore effective written communication is extremely important for businesses, where in most cases information is not delivered personally.

When in private written communication there are almost no rules, writing for business is almost an art. The main objective of writing for business is conveying information to the target audience or requesting information from it. An effective business writing must be accurate, complete, and concise. The text should be easily understandable for the reader, as readers are potential clients that might choose to use or not to use products/services that this business offers. Therefore, there are particular steps that a writer needs to follow in order to create a piece of effective writing for business.

1. Adopt a You-Attitude.

Business writing must have an appropriate level of organization; no omissions or incorrect focus are allowed, as these can make the piece of writing less clear. Talking about the audience, it is important to remember that business writing will be more effective if you focus on what your reader wants to hear, not on what you are going to say or do. In this case, a reader (listener) is a key character, as he/she is a potential client at the same time. For example, don't say “I have requested a refund for you”; it is better to say “You will receive your money back in 2-3 working days”. Customers are not interested in what you do or how you do it, they want to know how exactly it may affect their life. Therefore, focus on what they will achieve if they choose your insurance agency/ buy your new lipstick/ attend a gathering in a park, rather than provide them with endless lists of facts.

2. Don't Get Too Wordy.

While writing, the author should be aware of length. Writing for business must be concise and clear, not flowery and verbose. It differs from book writing and other types of non-fiction, as business writing is more specific and contains important data. Business writing must be neither too short nor too long, as it has to be effective and easily understandable, but don't take much time to read it. Unfortunately, people are not willing to read a lot these days, especially busy business people, so try to get straight to a point without being too wordy. “Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something” (Plato). Be wise, and don't get carried away just because you are required to write something.

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3. Business Style.

Not making a mistake when choosing a style of your writing is half a job. In terms of lexis, remember to not overuse jargon and exquisite vocabulary; try to stick to a plain language that most people understand. Of course using terms and specific vocabulary can be justified, but try to make your writing more simple and customer-friendly. If you can think of an everyday English equivalent of any bookish term or foreign word, opt for it. Catchy words, in fact, do you a disservice, as instead of drawing attention they make the reader ignore the text completely. So instead of asking for succor, ask for help; do not be afraid to use simple me instead of myself. Business writing is not meant to bear any hidden meaning; it is aimed at delivering clear information that should be easily understood.

Business writing syntax requires short sentences and prevalence of active voice. Apart from that, be careful enough to not call an Executive Producer Mr. Wright ”Mrs. Wright”, “Mr. Right” or claim that he is an Executive Story Editor. If you are not sure, better ask somebody who knows, but do not make those embarrassing mistakes. It is unforgivable in a world of business. Apart from that, eliminate the use of exclamation points in your writing and make sure to end your letters with a polite “Regards” instead of “Cheers” or “Later”.

4. Proofreading And Editing.

After completing the writing part, any writer must proofread and edit business writing. Proofreading refers to re-reading the piece of writing in order to make sure that all the thoughts are expressed correctly on the paper. For example, no words are omitted, no endings left off, no homonyms are used. Proofreading allows fixing such errors. Editing follows, as it allows fixing and changing the material in order to make it better. Editing also takes care of grammar mistakes. Writers often seek the help of professional editors who know exactly what to do to make business writing sound more professional. If you decide to check your writing yourself, give it some time to rest and come back to it with a fresh mind in a couple of hours or even days. Re-reading a freshly written text will probably let you fix typos only, as all the others mistakes were just made and are not yet perceived as errors by your brain. When coming back to your writing, try reading it aloud - it will help you catch even the slightest stylistic flaws.

5. Some Other Tips from us.

  • Create templates. You'll be surprised to learn how much time and effort it saves to use templates as your guide. Not only will it help you eliminate mistakes and typos, but you'll be also  sure that no points are missing and information is structured properly. Delete any specific details from formal e-mails, memos, or resumes and create a “skeleton” to use in future.  
  • End your writing with a “call for action”. In order to stand out, your message should provoke a reaction. It is wise to give your readers a hint on what to do with an information you've just provided, because they are unlikely to wonder themselves.
  • Add factual information. Let numbers and figures speak for themselves. The information you provide will sound more impressive if you back it up with graphs or statistics. Apart from that, it will make your text less wordy.

Writing is, undoubtedly, important in business. It is a mistake to give little credit to it, as It is an essence of modern business communication. Poorly written emails and presentations can seriously harm business reputation. Therefore, putting an effort into improving your writing is something that will eventually pay off.

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