Simply put, writing better when communicating both internally within a company and to outside parties creates a stronger, more professional image, both for you and the organization you represent. As such, it’s something you should always look towards improving at. Here are a few things you can keep doing to facilitate better writing in your organization.
- Give the reader a reason to read. If you’re emailing subordinates, they’ll almost always check your email. Other people, however, may not be as welcoming. When emailing people who don’t really need to read your emails to keep their job, give them a reason to click and read through by using a descriptive title and labeling your email appropriately (e.g. “Important”).
- Focus on benefits. Harping on the benefits isn’t just a tactic for copywriters. It’s something all professionals should incorporate in their business writing efforts. Writing from the point of view of how you can help the reader is always good practice, especially in business, where most communication is intended to facilitate some form of transaction.
- Match your audience. Tailor your writing style and presentation format to match what your target readers prefer. Doing so will increase the chances of your writing being read and understood. Even if you think you have a better approach, communication will be best served when you match the reader — and that’s the whole point of improving your writing, after all.
- Be specific. Too many business writing is done with a deliberately opaque message. Don’t add to the mess. Write in a specific manner, addressing tangible concerns and proposing detailed solutions.
- Follow the news story structure. That is, put all the important information as early as you can. For emails, this will be the first paragraph. That way, readers who may be in a hurry can get a quick gist while staying completely above the fold.
- List key points. For longer pieces of writing, such as reports, consider listing key points in the beginning of the document. Start off each list item with an action verb to make the thought clearer.
- Use scan-friendly layouts. Like web content, email will be read off a computer screen, so follow web-friendly structures with your formatting. That includes: using short paragraphs, writing lists as bullet points, using headers and adding summaries whenever appropriate.
- Use a respectful but self-assured tone. The one thing that’s never missing from a professional document is a respectful tone — one that neither condescends, brags nor berates. Don’t go overboard, though. You want to project confidence while remaining respectful.