These days, we are writing more than ever. That means it’s harder than ever to grab attention. Your readers have more and more to get through – so you need to make it easy for them to read what you write. This is especially true in business. But how do you write so it’s easier for people to read?
These six tips are some of the many ideas we apply in our business writing training programme.
Try them out today and you’ll find it easier than ever to communicate clearly.
If your memo asks for authorisation for new expenditure, say it in the first line. If your report tells the board there is nothing to worry about in the new regulation, say so in the first paragraph. If your memo seeks approval for a new consumer test, say exactly that in the headline. Make it easy for the reader to know what you want them to do.
Great writing is easy to read. It uses simple structures and short phrases. Just by breaking long written sentences into shorter thought units, you can make your writing more accessible. Some quick things to look for: make sure words that relate to each other are close together; get rid of jargon; cut unnecessary detail and break down complex sentences into constituent parts.
BEFORE: In reviewing the strategic impact of the Corporate ESG Assessment Report, the board considered many factors including environmental damage and pollution control, including the impact this had on our operations in south east Asia, South America and Africa and concluded that the current situation was satisfactory.
AFTER: After reviewing the Corporate ESG Assessment Report, the board concluded that our current ESG situation was satisfactory.
Your verbs power your sentences. They drive your thinking forward and direct the reader. When you select the right verb, you get to the heart of your sentence and to the heart of your meaning. Pick out strong verbs to hammer home what you want to say.
BEFORE: The new office has grown turnover quickly.
AFTER: Turnover in the new office has doubled in the last 6 months.
A large part of writing is re-writing. You should never be happy with your first draft. Look for redundant words, for needless repetition, for ideas not explained clearly enough. Check the order of your writing. Have you put the right things in the right order? Have you really made it easy for the reader? Is your start and your end strong enough? Keep editing until your writing is as good as it can be.
My penultimate tip is always read your writing out loud. When you read it, you’ll spot logical errors, complex sentences and boring bits. And when you read out loud, you are more likely to uncover the beauty and rhythm in your words that make them easier to read.
Journalists are professional writers while most of us are just amateurs. Journalists get paid to capture attention, to explain what’s going on and to get you back the next day for more of the same. When you read a newspaper, look how the writer structures sentences, produces paragraphs and shapes their articles. Copy their ideas and try their style. Find out which of their expert tools works best for you.
The more you read, the better you will write.
If you are interested in improving how you write, start by applying these six tips. But if you want to take it further, why not consider a BBA coaching programme in your company.
We organise intensive coaching days that help you look at your own writing in a different way. We help you pull apart bad writing and build it up again using best practice techniques.
You’ll come away from a BBA training course very clear on what bad writing looks like – and how to create great writing. By the end, you’ll be producing confident powerful written reports that are read and acted on.
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