Good business writing skills have always been important, but in today’s age of technology, they are even more so. Being able to accurately and succinctly convey what you are trying to say is a critical skill, especially when your audience is busy and has limited time. With endless resources available to us, making a simple spelling or grammar mistake can indicate much more than it did before the omnipresence of technology. Careless mistakes can give the impression that you don’t care enough to double check your writing—possibly even leading clients to wonder what else you have been cavalier with. Technology has made everyone a writer, and writing is a very visible skill that should represent your professional goals and that of your organization.
Here are 5 quick tips that can make a huge difference for you:
1. Get the reader’s attention early
You need to be able to hold your reader’s interest with your writing. Most people aren’t willing to put in the time to sit down and read through a novel-length email, so whatever you write needs to grab their attention in the first couple lines. It is critical that you immediately state the purpose or theme of your piece and not digress.
2. Make it clear and concise
The challenge with making things more concise is preserving the clarity of the message that you are trying to convey. When trying to make something as short as possible, the true meaning of what you are saying can easily be lost. In a world of 140 character tweets and sound bites, what you are saying needs to be both thorough and clear; this skill takes a bit of work!
3. Look and sound professional
The most obvious reason that good business writing is important is that it will give your company credibility. If you lack good writing skills, you may seem less intelligent, knowledgeable, or qualified than your competition. If your writing has obvious mistakes, potential customers will not feel confident in paying money for your services. Good business writing inspires confidence in you and your business.
4. Take time to proofread everything
With impending deadlines and spellcheck, it is easy to get careless and still make mistakes; however, to establish credibility and trustworthiness, each piece of writing must be proofed before it is sent out. If a piece is especially important, let someone else read it, too. Spell check catches many errors but it won’t catch punctuation, grammar, or poor word choices. You will not get a second chance to fix your reputation once a poorly written document goes public.
5. Don’t let your tone get too familiar or too formal
The world of work has gotten very familiar and become friendly-informal. Some of us bring our dogs to work and wear jeans every day! Don’t let that tone seep into your writing. Your audience is not your bestie and should not be treated that way. You are writing a professional colleague, supervisor, customer, vendor or partner. Find a way to maintain a professional tone but not sound wooden and overly formal about it. Use appropriate everyday expressions but not overly casual or slangy ones. And by all means, don’t overload your writing with cutesy images, smileys, or too much punctuation, like exclamation points, but instead use words to convey your thoughts. Writing is not texting.
Mark Twain once said, “To get the right word in the right place is a rare achievement.” Good writing is difficult but realizable, and ultimately, you have to ask whether your employees’ writing conveys what your brand represents, and how you want your customers and partners to see you. If it doesn’t put you in the best light, maybe Invista Performance Solutions can give you a helping hand with some training?