No matter what level of a business you're at, whether a leader, manager or employee, written communication is likely to form a fundamental part of your everyday role. Depending upon your job you may regularly be required to write email, business correspondence, reports, web content, newsletters, user guidance, contracts or a host of other types of document. If your business writing skills aren't quite as polished as you'd like or simply need brushing up, Maguire Training's Essential Writing Skills course will give you everything you need to write accurately and with confidence, encouraging your creativity and helping you to use grammar, spelling and punctuation correctly.
Everyone can benefit from improving their business writing skills and so, to help you begin straight away here are ten do's and don'ts to help you achieve better business writing.
- DO write with the reader in mind
If you're writing about a technical subject for a non-technical reader try to avoid technical jargon and acronyms they may not be familiar with and, if possible, explain concepts in a way which the reader can relate to.
- DON'T become over-reliant on your computer's spelling/grammar checking facility
It's easy to assume that nowadays computers are smart enough to pick up and correct every little spelling and grammatical error but this isn?t the case. Always proofread your writing for mistakes before distributing it to a wider audience or, better still, get someone else to check it over for you.
- DO keep writing as simple and succinct as possible
Effective written communication gets to the point quickly and unambiguously. Business communication does not benefit from the use of extended, flowery language or obscure vocabulary. Say exactly what you need to say in as few words as possible without losing the emphasis or meaning of your message.
- DON'T be tempted to use sarcasm jokingly in written communication
In verbal communication your intent - whether serious or humorous - is given away by your delivery and tone of voice. These qualities are lost in written communication and a quip which may seem funny to you at the time of writing may be entirely misinterpreted by the reader causing unintended offence. As far as humour goes in business writing, if in doubt leave it out.
- DO structure and organise your business writing
A long document, letter or email should open with a summary overview of the contents allowing the reader to make a judgement on whether the subject matter is important to them without having to wade through the text. For ease of reading, longer texts should be divided into separate sections with descriptive headings, and should cover one or two subjects at most.
- DON'T be careless when writing a recipient's name, gender, or professional title
Whether you're writing to your CEO or to an important customer, accidentally addressing them as 'Mr.' when you meant 'Mrs.' or 'Ms.' is inexcusable as is attributing them an incorrect job title or spelling their name incorrectly. Check and double check that you have the correct personal details before sending letters or email.
- DO choose an appropriate tone for your business writing
You may wish to adopt an informal tone when writing for colleagues or business associates that you know well but in any situation where you are not one hundred percent sure as to how your writing will be received or interpreted it's better to play it safe and maintain a formal and respectful tone.
- DON'T forget to include a call to action if a response is needed
If you'd like an answer to a question you've posed in an email, feedback on a draft report, and RSVP to a written invitation or a reply to a business or sales letter you've written, don't forget to close with an appropriate call to action to the reader.
- DO save your best written documents as templates for future use
There's no point in wasting effort to re-invent the wheel each time you need to write a similar document. Save well-written and effective documents as templates that can be edited and amended for future use.
- DON'T be unprofessional in your writing
Ensure that any facts you include in your writing have been checked for accuracy, don't include anything which, however well-meaning your intentions, could be construed by the reader as discriminatory, inflammatory or offensive, and don't be critical of others in your writing. Before distributing or sending written material, try reading it to yourself out loud - this can be a useful technique to help ensure that what you have written is accurate, professional and acceptable.
For delegates who wish to improve their business writing skills at their own pace and in their preferred environment, Maguire Training's Essential Writing Skills is also available as an online training course via our easy to use and convenient E-learning system.