No matter what industry you are a part of, business writing skills will support your professional role. Business writing can be defined as any written professional communication whether it be internal (addressing those within your company) or external (client or audience facing). Typically, business writing will take the form of emails, reports, documents, proposals, and memos. In any of these forms, you will find yourself writing instructions, imparting information, offering persuasion, and dealing with transactions. How can you be successful with your business writing practices? Consider the following points.
Write out your points in any order
Often, the most effective way to map out your next piece of business writing is to write out your points ahead of time. Knowing how to finish can be easier than trying to start, so start with the information you know the best first. Once you’ve mapped out your points, then you can begin to assemble them in an orderly fashion that supports logic and clarity in the final piece.
“But Sadie,” you might be saying now, “that sounds like writing an outline!”
Yes, it does. Outlines are the bread and butter of business writing practices, especially for longer documents.
Use the active voice
Unnecessary wordiness is the bane of professional writing. How do you avoid this? You avoid it by using the active voice instead of passive. Allow me to demonstrate:
Active: The bat hit the ball.
Passive: The ball was hit by the bat.
A good rule of thumb for digging out passive sentences is identifying if the subject does the action or receives it. In my example, the first sentence features the subject performing the action of hitting, while the second sentence features the object being hit as the subject. The first sentence embraces both clarity and simplicity. The second has to insert a helping verb to make it grammatically correct. You may not always be able to avoid the passive voice in writing, but the less you use the passive voice, the more clear and effective your writing will be.
Use headings for clarity
Occasionally, you may find yourself writing longer pieces, such as a client package or employee handbook. If you find your piece is longer than a paragraph or two, you may want to introduce headings into your document. Start by grouping your writing into sections (if you mapped out points as I suggested earlier, this will be easy!). Use headings and subheadings to identify these sections to the reader. This will allow the reader to scan your piece before reading and focus on the most applicable sections.
Do you find the thought of business writing overwhelming? DM me and we can discuss strategies!