The most important thing to realize when attempting to write professionally is that business writing is no different than writing a blog post or drafting a professional email. All types of writing harness the same core skills, whether it is business writing, academic writing, creative writing, or anything else. If you can harness general writing skills while writing to businesses, you will have a good foundation to begin. In order to expand on average skills and direct them specifically towards the business world, here are few simple tips.
1. Be Conversational in Tone
Many people make the mistake of writing in too formal of a manner when a business or professional person is their audience. It is important to remember that behind every company, there are people just like you. While your writing should not be extremely casual, it should be conversational. No one wants to read a formal letter or article, because the formal tone of it blocks what is really trying to be said. Speak professionally and appropriately but avoid being excessively proper.
2. Use a Solid, Active Voice
Confidence can be seen through writing just as it can be seen in a face-to-face conversation. Be confident in your words when writing professionally, because that confidence will reflect your character as a whole. If you use a weak and passive voice, you may come off as a weak individual to the company. Whether you are applying for a job or pitching an idea, you want to sound certain and convincing in order to persuade the person on the other end of your writing to agree with you.
3. Content, Style, Format
When engaging in business writing, you must make sure that your content is accurate to the situation at hand, your style is appropriate, and your writing format is suitable. It may take some research to find out what works, but it will make all the difference in the end. By presenting your ideas and words in a pleasing way to the receiving party, whatever you have to say will immediately sound better. This tip is similar when writing a professional resume. Style and format can be just as important as the skills presented within the document.
4. Proofread, Edit, Revise
If you have done any writing in the past, this tip should be engraved in your brain. It is extremely important, especially in business writing, to proofread, edit, and revise your writing. Simple grammar or spelling mistakes can ruin your first impression to a company. By forgetting to proofread, you will come off as careless. In order to let the company know that you are serious about them and what you are saying to them, you must make sure your writing is perfect in syntax.
5. Cut Out Flowery Language
Again, this is a skill that many well-bred writers already have, and it is a very important skill to learn. Instinctively, many people accessorize their writing with unnecessary words and flowery language in order to add uniqueness and flavor. However, business writing is not the place for this kind of language. In business, it is important to get to the point and fast. No one has the time or energy to decipher through all the extra “flavor” you have added. In order to gain respect and have people truly listen to what you have to say, you must be concise, direct, and to the point.
6. Pay Close Attention to Your Audience
When directing an email or letter to a business professional, it is important that you do some research and get their name, title, and gender correct. By addressing the person correctly, it will show that you have taken the time to get to know them a little. Everyone inherently wants to feel important and making your targeted audience know that you respect them enough to address them correctly is essential. When it comes down to it, the person who addresses a woman as a Mr. instead of Ms. is likely to be shrugged off first in relation to the person who has it right.
7. Save Templates
To make your business writing easier, save templates of exceptionally written letters you have composed in the past. While it is important to make sure every letter is directed specifically to the client, a nice template to help you begin will save you time. That being said, make sure you check the details of your template every time so that you have changed the right fields. Never leave an old name, date, or company on your template or you will find yourself in some trouble!
8. Write Like a Reporter
Just as any news reporter would do, consider the five W’s and the H when writing professionally. Who, what, when, where, why, and how should all be questions you answer in your letter. You never want to leave your reader with unanswered questions. By keeping these six words in your head and making sure you cover all of them, your letter will effectively get a point across without leaving any strings dangling.
9. Avoid Jargon
Similar to flowery language, many people who engage in business writing want to add in jargon that relates to the specialized field. While you may think this makes you sound more professional and knowledgeable about the company, it does not. These buzzwords are very transparent to the reader and will likely cause more harm than help. By avoiding these words, your reader can truly understand what you have to say and why you are saying it.
10. Read Aloud What You Write
Reading your writing aloud once you think it is complete is an important step that will help you proofread. When reading something aloud, awkward sentences and words will stand out more than they would if you simply read it on paper. Reading aloud causes your mind to picture your writing differently. While readers will undoubtedly be reading your writing to themselves, you want to see your writing from all perspectives in order to catch even the smallest mistakes.
The tips given above do not require an extreme amount of effort to incorporate into your writing. However, by considering these tips during the writing process, you will find that your writing is clearer, noticeably more convincing, and overall superior to what you had on the paper before. Business writing is unique in that it requires a little creativity, the perfect amount of professionalism, and a very direct tone of voice. In order to effectively write in this way, whether it is a resume, a cover letter, a pitch, or an email proposal, you must employ perfect grammar and intense clarity. Be sure to stay aware of these tips while writing, and you will inevitably improve your business writing skills.