How to Improve Your Business Writing Skills in 2020
You may not be a natural when it comes to writing skills, but in a professional setting, it’s something you should always work on improving. There are a number of reasons you might need to write in a business setting.
For example, you could have to write a business or marketing plan, create a proposal, keep investors or stakeholders up-to-date on something, or you might just be writing everyday communications.
First and foremost, if you have important content you need to create, you should always have another set of eyes look over it before you submit it to its destination. Depending on what’s a stake, you might also want to have a professional proofreader work with you to ensure it’s not just free from errors, but also well-structured and conveys what you want it to.
Beyond that, the following are some tips to help you improve your business writing skills in 2020.
Don’t Overthink It
One of the biggest mistakes people make when they’re not used to writing a lot, or they aren’t comfortable with it, is they overthink it.
Don’t over plan or overthink your business writing.
Instead, just sit down and write what you need to write.
Write it as if you’re speaking it to someone and don’t initially worry about how organized it is, or whether or not it’s grammatically correct.
Just worry about the main message you’re trying to get across, and then you can go from there.
By starting to write without overthinking, you can train yourself to be more efficient and to-the-point, both of which are vital to strong business writing.
Follow a Template
If you aren’t sure how to get started, you can create your own business writing templates that you refer to, or you can find them online as a reference.
When you have a template you’re used to following it will help you stay ontrack with your writing.
If you write a great business document, save that so you can go back through and follow the same structure in the future. Do the same for things like letters and emails.
Keep-it-simple-stupid may not be the nicest way to say it, but it gets the point across. Business writing needs to be simple. It doesn’t have to be flowery and poetic, nor should it be.
You want to get your message through to the reader in a way that’s fast and succinct. No one wants to sit around and try to read something for work in 2000 words that could have been said in 200 words.
Using more words to say the same thing is not beneficial in business writing, and it can take away from your core message.
You also want to go back to some of those lessons you learned in school about writing—the 5 W’s, namely.
You want to make sure that you’re explaining who, what, when, where, why, and how (no, how isn’t a W).
If you can cover these areas, you’re likely getting your message across.
This was touched on a bit above, but it bears repeating on its own. It’s good to be conversational in business writing. People tend to think they need to be overly formal if they’re writing for business purposes, and that’s not the case.
That doesn’t mean you want to let all formality fly out the window, but write like you’re speaking to someone.
You could have a conversation in your head or even out loud if you need to so that you can get a feel for what you would sound like if you were telling someone what you have to write.
There’s definitely a distinction to be made between being professional and formal, and that’s important to understand with business writing.
While you don’t want to be too formal, don’t try to be funny or cutesy. It might not come off well in a written format.
Finally, if all else fails and you have to write something important for your business, hire someone to do it for you.
Freelance writers can take an outline or even just a concept and turn it into something that’s polished and is going to work well for your needs. You can even use what a freelancer does for you and apply it to your business writing in the future.
If you have a big decision or outcome riding on what you’re writing, outsourcing it may be the best way to tackle the situation.