Do you know that a single spelling mistake can snatch away sales from you? In business communication, every word that you utter or write makes an impression about you that can adversely or positively affect your sales. A poorly-written business proposal may cost you lakhs at times. So, what can you do to avoid this?
The answer is simple. You should be able to write clearly and attractively in English as it is considered to be one of the most used official languages in the world. Nobody is born with language skills and hence, you can learn if you are determined. Let’s have a look at the basics of business writing, its main components and some tips to improve your business writing skills.
What is Business Writing?
So, let’s start with the fundamental question. Business writing is a type of writing that is intended to elicit a business response. It is a highly professional writing which is result-oriented and even a trivial mistake may make all your attempts futile. You would have seen some experienced professionals who lack the confidence to speak to other people as they don’t know English. Exceptional knowledge in English is a must for all professionals as it is the most important language of communication in the business world.
ABCs of Business Writing
There are three pillars of business writing that you have to follow in professional communication. They are accuracy, brevity, and clarity — popularly shortened as ABCs of business writing.
Accuracy means the correctness of the content. The content should be factually and grammatically correct. Every fact concerning your product, service or event should be true. Giving wrong information to the clients will ruin your reputation and credibility. At the same time, grammatical correctness is also important as some simple grammatical errors can change the whole meaning of the sentence. So, ensure that your copy is accurate.
Brevity is the soul of business writing. Brief and crisp writing can keep your reader’s interest until the last sentence. After writing the content, you can read it aloud again and trim any unnecessary or repeated words. It is always better to avoid the tendency to write longer content, especially in a business as the other person might be so busy that he/she doesn’t have the time to go through your long article and it would end up in the trash.
No matter how beautifully you write and how strong is your message, the reader won’t understand a bit, if the content is unclear. You should plan ahead about the message and put it down in a clear and simple manner. Clear writing needs clarity of thought. There should be a logical order for the facts so that the reader can feel the flow in writing. Avoid using long and complex words as only helps in creating ambiguity.
Things to Focus in Business Writing
There are no hard and fast rules in fictional writing. But when you are writing for business, you should keep certain things in mind as it is goal-oriented communication. Your aim is to sell something. Make sure that you do the following while writing for business.
Do proper research
Research provides the foundation for writing. If you want to inform others about something, you have to be equipped with the knowledge of the specific product or service that you are selling. So, do proper research about the product, the market, target audience, and your competitors to get a clear idea about what you have to write to compel the audience to buy your product/service.
Identify your audience
This is the most important factor that you have to consider in business writing. While you wish to put your thoughts down on paper, there is no need to think if it makes sense to other people. However, in business writing, your sole aim of writing is to sell the product/service.
So, writing without considering your target audience will be like sending a letter without mentioning the address. Its reachability is determined by your style of writing and how you appeal to your audience.
Know your purpose
Business writing is essentially driven by a purpose. You would need to sell a product, inform about the launch of a new product or invite your clients to an event conducted by your organization. Whatever be the purpose, keep it in mind while communicating with the target audience. Inform them of your purpose right away and don’t elaborate too much.
Use conversational tone
Though formal language is always considered to be ideal for business communication, it must not be blunt and impersonal. Use a conversational tone in writing as it can help you create a rapport with the writer.
Keep it short
It is the second principle – brevity. Write about what you want to convey and refrain from mentioning all the accolades that your company received. Though you would have a lot to say about your organization, the other person may not have time to read a lengthy piece. Keep your copy brief, crisp and catchy to ensure that the receiver reads it fully.
Many of the businessmen feel that using jargon in communication shows their knowledge and expertise in their specific industry. However, simplicity is the key to all kinds of communication. Filling your content with jargon will only result in confusion and miscommunication. So, keep it simple and the other person must not have to read it twice to understand the message.
Coherence refers to unity. Any kind of writing should have three parts – intro, body, and conclusion. All three parts must combine together to make a unified whole. Business writing has different formats according to the purpose. You should look into the format and add the intro, body, and conclusion as the format demands. Finally, read it aloud and make sure that the writing is coherent with all parts nicely blended together.
Business Writing Skills
Learning the business writing skills is not a hard nut to crack. You can build up the writing skills or improve your writing with practice. As the first step, start reading a lot of professional write-ups, observe the language and formats of different types of writing. Then, start writing and you will certainly become a good writer with constant practice.
Good command over the language
This is the most integral factor that you need if you want to start writing anything. Writing is not as talking. You would have seen many native English speakers who find it difficult to put across their ideas in written form. Reading is the best and simplest method to gain good command over the language.
Read some great books in the English language and see the difference in your writing. You have to enlarge your vocabulary to write with a flow by avoiding repetition.
Use the active voice
Using an active voice helps to make your writing direct and interesting. Passive sentences appear to be wordy and fail to draw the attention of the readers. For instance, it is better to write ‘the meeting is at 5 pm’ instead of writing, ‘the meeting will be held at 5 pm’.
Write for the audience
Who is your audience? Every product/service is designed for a specific target audience. If you have your audience in mind, you can write the copy to suit their mindset. For instance, the content targeting women entrepreneurs will be poles apart from the one which targets the house makers.
It is not advised to include some jokes or informal conversation in the official mails as they don’t help in creating rapport, but create a negative impression about your organization. So, always make a clear distinction between your informal and formal emails.
Use a call to action phrase
As mentioned, all business communication has an intention and the customer is required to do something after reading it. Clarify your call to action in the document to inform them about what you want them to do. In case of an event, you need their presence and if it is about a product, they should buy it. So, you should include a phrase that persuades them to do what you need. The most important goal of a business write-up is to persuade than to inform.
Proofread and edit
“Any fool can write, but only a heaven-born can edit”. Yes, writing is easy, but editing is not. Proofreading is the post-writing process which ensures that the intended idea is conveyed to the audience. Editing is just like a cleaning process that makes your copy free of all errors that resulted from haste or carelessness.
Proofreading and editing often go hand in hand. You can do these two processes by yourself. However, it is always recommended to make another person read your copy as he/she can find the mistakes better than you.
Benefits of Business Writing Training
The training in business writing will transform you into a confident professional writer who is well-versed with the usual business documents. You will also learn the basic skills in writing that include spelling, grammar, and punctuation. The following are the main advantages of attending training in business writing.
- Improve your language and writing skills
- Build up your confidence levels
- Lead to more effective communication with clients
- Result in more fruitful collaborations
- The writing will appear more professional
- Helps in making the business write-ups error-free