It’s a common misconception that because one can read and write, one can write. Nothing could be further from the truth. Bad grammar and spelling, poorly constructed sentences and drifting focus can destroy your credibility, not just as a proficient business person, but as an expert in your field.
3 Tips for Better Business Writing
Once words are down on paper, or in some electronic form, and sent out into the world, they are there forever. You have no idea who will be reading it now, or in the future. What you say may not only damage your reputation but may lose you future work from potential new clients. Here are three fundamental tips for professional business writing:
Tip 1: The KISS Rule
KISS is an acronym for Keep It Simple Sweetheart. Unless you’re writing a thesis, you don’t want to sound like an academic, and even then using simpler, but not dumber words, opens your research up to a wider audience. You also don’t want to sound like a lawyer as that always carries an implied threat. Not the best way to develop a good working relationship with a colleague, a client or a supplier. And you definitely don’t want to sound like a politician.
Using ostentatious language, uncommon words and confused sentence structure only highlights a writer’s lack of experience. Remember, the object of your writing is to communicate and perhaps even persuade.
This is why you should always have commonly used words rather than ‘fancy’ ones. For example, use more than, or even over, instead of in excess of; start instead of commencing; if instead of in the event of. A good rule of thumb is never to use words on paper you wouldn’t use in real life. Like, thus. Who says thus outside of dull speeches?
Tip 2: Stick to the Point
Long emails are never read in their entirety. Life is far too busy to have to wade through a long word count. Besides, the more you write, the quicker you drift from the point. Using simpler and fewer words also keeps the word count down. Why use three words when one will do just as well? For example, under rather than in accordance with.
Tip 3: Be Friendly but Always Professional
Being pompous is a sign of insecurity hiding behind bad manners. Over-familiarity in business is a sign of immaturity. Remember, this is still a professional relationship. All initial correspondence with a new client or supplier must start with Dear Mrs X, not Hi or Yo. Your client will dictate how they wish to be addressed. For example, if they reply, Hi Jane, then that is how they are happy to be addressed in future.
When signing off, build Many thanks, Kind regards to your address panel in your email signature. That way you never have to worry about it again.
If business writing isn’t your strength, follow The Digital Alliance blogs for more tips on how to write like a professional.