Since business writing is all about effective business communications, it’s essential for every employee to have good business writing skills.
Every employee needs to send emails, develop business proposals, and write business reports every once in a while. Therefore, good business writing skills are crucial along with good communication skills.
Written communication skills can also go a long way when you’re applying for jobs. For some, it may be the final piece in confirming their job.
In this article, we’ll go over some crucial business writing skills that everyone should have in 2023.
Let’s dive right in.
Business Writing Skills to Have in 2023
Whether you’re creating a business document or writing a simple memo, good business writing skills can go a long way. It’s more than just having good sentence structure, a professional tone, and following the grammar rule.
The following are some crucial business writing skills you should work on.
1. Simple Language
The first rule to becoming a great business writer is to learn to always use simple language. Good writing usually doesn’t include a ton of complex words.
Creating reader-friendly content is all about making sure it’s easily understandable.
For that, you can use commonly-known shorter words. In the case where there isn’t a shorter word for a complex word, use a short phrase to describe it.
Furthermore, you can focus on avoiding adjectives and try to use an active voice.
Effective writing is when you can effortlessly communicate and get your point across quickly and efficiently.
Therefore, you should also try to avoid hidden verbs. In other words, making your own writing more personalized would automatically solve this problem.
For example, instead of saying, “We would love to provide a helping hand,” you can say, “We’d love to help you.”
The latter is not only shorter and more direct but also comes across as more friendly.
Using such direct and easily comprehensible language is more effective, quick, and efficient. Regardless of whether your reader is another employee or some clients, it’s always better to simplify your writing for your audience.
2. Ability to Distinguish Opinion from Facts
Business writers need to take extra precautions in their writing process because most business writing excludes personal opinions.
While you’re not doing any sort of academic writing here, you still need to ensure the facts are clear.
Meanwhile, business documents should be free of personal opinions. The only reasonable addition of personal opinions is when you’re giving recommendations.
In all other cases, it’s best to not add opinions. However, in some rare cases, you may need to include your opinion.
For such occasions, you should know the difference between providing objective opinions and personal opinions.
In any case, business writers should be able to differentiate between opinions and facts.
It’s crucial to maintain this to avoid misunderstandings. Regardless of whether your readers are internal or external stakeholders, keep your writing free of ambiguity.
Furthermore, if you’re providing your viewpoint on something, make sure you make it explicitly clear that it’s your opinion.
3. Conciseness and Brevity
Despite your writing style, one thing you need to master is how to be concise. All business writing needs to be succinct and to the point.
Using concise language is mostly about removing any fluff words and any phrases that don’t serve a direct purpose.
For example, when writing an email, you may write, “I’m sending this email to tell you that you need to submit your work by Monday.”
The first part of this sentence doesn’t need to be there since it’s obvious you’re sending an email.
Instead, you should write, “You need to submit your work by Monday.”
However, this is an extremely simple example. Conciseness and brevity go a long way when you’re writing documents like business reports.
That’s because most of your readers will not have the time to browse through multiple pages or paragraphs.
A good rule is to make the information readily available. On top of that, here are a few things you can do:
- Always focus on the facts and information
- Stick to the subject matter
- Use three words or less per bullet point, unless you’re explaining something
- Use short words and maintain the same word choice throughout
- Avoid unnecessary adverbs and adjectives
- Avoid all sorts of ambiguity and always aim for clarity
Keep your sentences short and try to input the most important information at the start or in the first paragraph.
If there’s a clunky sentence, break it down into multiple ones and keep the relevant bits.
4. Maintain a Purpose
It’s crucial to make sure that each form of business communication serves a very clear purpose.
You have to focus on ensuring that your business writing clearly defines its purpose. It’s also best to maintain a singular purpose per document.
For example, if you’re sending out a company-wide announcement for employees, make sure you make it explicitly clear at the start.
Most people may not go through all the business communications, especially if they seem templated and repetitive.
Therefore, you can avoid that by making sure all documents immediately communicate the purpose.
That is also why most articles start by explaining what the article will talk about.
More importantly, you shouldn’t divert from that purpose during the document. Use other documents if there is something else to talk about.
Your message should only tackle one main idea at a time. Therefore, avoid cluttered thinking and practice single-purpose messaging.
5. Know Who Your Audience Is
While this may seem obvious, it’s still an important skill, especially if your business writing is more external than internal.
While you should understand the purpose of your writing, it’s also important to know who your reader is.
That helps gear the purpose towards that particular person or audience. It’s the same case whether you’re writing an email to someone or sending out a message to the masses.
Furthermore, knowing your audience is also about understanding how their minds work.
For example, if you’re writing an email to fellow employees, you would want to keep it short and informal.
Similarly, if you’re sending a customer email, you should be formal, clear, and straightforward.
Therefore, it’s always better to know your audience in the business world because it helps you cater to their specifications.
Your audience can actively affect the following things:
- The language you use; each word can differ when considering different audiences.
- Various tools you use and in what capacity.
- The effectiveness of what you write over the course of time.
- Your conversational tone between being professional and completely casual.
- What important points you want to mention.
Furthermore, it can also affect the length of your writing. For example, if you’re writing a business report for upper management, you would want to write the main points on the first page in short paragraphs.
A quick way to improve your business writing is to develop your formatting skills. There are a lot of common mistakes one makes during formatting that can have compounding issues.
Your formatting efforts should maximize efficiency at all times. Don’t start writing until you have a good idea of how you should be formatting your document.
The idea is to allow readers to quickly skim through any document without any issues.
But that doesn’t mean you should add too many formatting elements; that can end up distracting your readers.
It applies to all forms of writing whether you’re writing reports, emails, or creating a presentation.
Here are a few things that come under formatting:
- Using the bold, italics, and underline options.
- Highlighting certain text elements.
- Using different colors for various words you want to color code.
- Utilizing bullet points and numbering.
- Using headlines and subheadings.
- Maintaining sentence structure and text alignment throughout.
Your formatting should remain similar throughout your documents. For example, if you’re writing a report, the same formatting should apply to the body and the frequently asked questions (if applicable).
7. Proofreading, Editing, and Revising
The best grammar checker you can have is yourself. It’s a skill that will come in handy in all sorts of writing.
It’s the best way to become a better writer because you actively improve yourself and your writing.
Proofreading involves checking whether your writing follows the style guide, format, and other nuisances.
Furthermore, it checks the facts, links, and accuracy of your content. On top of that, it’s also a great way to weed out any unnecessary passive voice.
After that, you should be able to make meaningful edits to your content. Otherwise, it doesn’t make sense to edit it yourself.
A good practice is to return to your writing after a day. However, that would only work if you’re working on a proposal or report.
Revising is about maintaining your writing or updating it after it’s up. For example, you may need to revise a report after showing it to your manager.
During these actions, try to check for typographical, syntactical, and grammatical errors. Focus on the overall readability and flow of the document.
Furthermore, you should also get a spellchecker tool. It can ease the proofreading and editing process, but first, try to sharpen your skills rather than relying on tools.
8. Attitude and Perspective
While knowing your audience is one thing, it’s also important to understand how your writing can affect them.
There are different layers of meaning to your writing. You should be aware of all of them and what impact they can have.
The following are some things that contribute to the attitude and perspective of your writing:
- Your overall sentence structure; for example, long sentences give the impression that the reader is well-versed.
- The word choice throughout your writing.
- All the expressions, if any, that you use, including metaphors and examples.
- The viewpoints you share, whether they are opinions or recommendations.
A good practice is to always consider the viewpoint of the reader rather than yours.
Great ideas tend to come up when you think from the perspective of your audience. It’s the same concept with social media posts; they only work if your audience resonates with them.
Therefore, the best way forward is to think from their perspective and adjust your writing accordingly.
It also makes it more likely that the reader will agree with you and do what you want them to do.
That makes it an important tool to use in your organization, especially if you’re at a managerial level.
Wrapping It Up
The skills above mostly rely on you continually practicing your business writing. The more you practice, the more you’ll automatically improve upon each skill.
Furthermore, you should make an effort to read to improve. See what others are doing differently in their business writing and learn from it.
Also, you should always update your knowledge on relevant things. Whether it’s updating yourself on language or formats, keep up to date.
Lastly, try to figure out your strengths and weaknesses in business writing and drive your efforts accordingly.