Every day, poor business writing costs organisations dearly. Every substandard blog, letter, email or other piece of written content released by an organisation harms the company's image, impacting their bottom line in the process.
So how can you make sure this is not the case for your business? How can you make sure that you and your team are avoiding basic spelling and grammatical errors, slang words and phrases, unclear communication and nonsensical business jargon?
We've compiled eight tips to help you and your organisation hit your business writing targets time and time again.
Be clear about your objectives
Nobody wants to read a long and rambling business article with no clear path or objective. Make sure that you are not subjecting your readers to this by clarifying your objectives before you begin.
Ask yourself some questions first. Why are you writing? What is the point of the article? Who is going to be reading it? What will your readers take away from the article? Define these points to give yourself a reliable framework for your writing.
Prioritise your points for great business communication
Even with the best business writing, there is an element of reader decay. This means that, as your article progresses, the percentage of your audience who are still reading decreases, so try to make your most important points within the first half of the article. This way, even if you publish a longer article to really demonstrate your expertise in the field, all your readers have something to take away, not just those who persevered right to the end.
Guide your readers with headings
It pays to be creative with words. If you give your readers a solid block of 1000 perfectly chosen words, don't expect many of them to read it. Instead, if you break up this text with informative, concise headers, it's far easier for your readers to digest what you're trying to say. This is another example of using a framework for your writing - using headings will help your readers get the most out of your content.
Don't go overboard on the jargon
Anyone familiar with business communication will know that the language can get a little flowery. Resist the temptation to dazzle your audience with your knowledge of corporate-speak and obscure technical terms, and instead stick to clear and precise communication using everyday vocabulary.
There will come a time when you have to go a little deeper and use words and phrases which are out of the ordinary. If this is the case, simply provide a few words of explanation or a neat and tidy definition. However, be sparing when you do this and don't bog the reader down with endless references and jargon.
Be careful with punctuation
Readers are drawn to light and lively writing, so it's no surprise that so many content authors try to achieve this style. However, one way to fail in this mission is by peppering your work with punctuation such as exclamation marks.
While an exclamation mark can give the impression of a lively voice as opposed to a flat and boring one, if you use them too much they become irritating and inane. What's more, using exclamation marks repeatedly robs them of any impact they may have had. Be very careful about where and how often you deploy these.
Revise and edit your business writing
When you have written your first draft, proofread it immediately. After this, put the draft to one side and then wait a while, perhaps a couple of hours or even a day or two, before proofreading it again. Give yourself time to go through the document and check for any mistakes or the opportunity to word things better.
Lastly, before you send or publish your document, read it out loud to yourself. This will help you catch any typos or mistakes that may have slipped through.
Be extra careful with names
Spotting a typo or mistake is an important business writing skill, but in a name, title, or gender pronoun, it is of critical importance. Spelling a word incorrectly looks sloppy, but spelling a client's name wrong, or calling a female partner 'Mr', can be disastrous. Devote extra time and attention to getting it right.
Keep a template for later
Once you have struck gold with the perfect article format or letter arrangement, save it as a template. Even if you don't end up using the template, it's worth having a library of documents you can refer to.
The more you write, the more opportunity you have to hone your business writing skills and produce better work in the future.