Even if you’re not a “pro,” people will not take you seriously if your business writing isn’t good. We all know how that feels.
It hurts when you send out emails or messages that people ignore. You feel small and insignificant.
“Why is no one responding to my emails?”
Because you make it easy for people to ignore you. But if you write in a clear, credible, and persuasive way in your career, you can convince people to pay you attention.
That’s why business writing is important for every knowledge worker.
Here are 10 tips that will make your business writing so effective people will respond to you.
1. Read your writing out loud to ensure it flows naturally
When you read your writing out loud, you can hear how it sounds and identify any awkward phrasing or other issues that can make your writing difficult to read.
It can also help you see which parts need more detail or explanation. Ideally, you will read your piece to someone. But you can always record and listen later.
When you read your writing out loud, you determine which parts would keep your audience engaged. And you can edit accordingly.
2. Use simple language
Write to teach, share, or make a point. Try not to write simply to impress by using complicated words.
As Thomas Jefferson puts it:
“The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.”
Avoid using overly technical terms. Instead, use language that is clear and concise.
3. Use shorter sentences for maximum clarity and efficiency
Using shorter sentences can help ensure that your writing is clear and easy to read.
Long, complex sentences can be difficult to follow. And with people’s attention span being shorter nowadays, you’ll likely lose readers fast.
Shorter sentences are more efficient. They get to the point quickly. And they don’t waste readers’ time.
4. Include visual elements
The world has become very visual now. But I don’t buy it when others say “reading is dead.”
The fact that you’re here, reading this, disproves that.
But long blocks of unengaging text is definitely boring. I find it hard to stay focused when the writing is poorly formatted.
So use images and graphs to break up the text and engage readers.
Visual elements also help you communicate complex ideas or data in a format that’s easier to consume.
5. Focus on one point per paragraph
I like receiving emails from my readers. Their thoughts give me feedback on the things I write. And I also enjoy connecting with like-minded people.
But now and then, I receive emails that are all over the place. I once got an email that asked me – in a single paragraph – for insights on three different topics! I had to re-read that person’s email just to understand what he was actually saying.
Remember this: Unless you’re writing a mystery story, your reader should never have to work too hard to understand your point.
Clarity is key. And you can’t be clear when you’re talking about too many things at once in a single paragraph. So focus on one point per paragraph. And if you’re writing articles, keep them focused on one overarching idea only.
6. Get clear on your reader and adjust your tone to suit them
Who are you writing for?
What do they already know about the topic? What else do they need to know?
Adjusting your tone to suit your readers helps ensure you grab and keep their attention.
7. Make sure you proofread everything before sending
What comes to your mind when you read something that’s full of grammatical errors, typos, and other issues? I can only think of two statements:
- “Amateur” or
- “This is probably a scam”
I’m not the grammar police and I certainly don’t have perfect grammar.
But if there are too many typos in a piece of text, it becomes hard for me to read it. I’m sure most other readers out there are the same.
Your writing reflects your ability and trustworthiness. So don’t sell yourself short by sending out something that hasn’t been proofread.
8. Avoid too-casual language and clichés. Also jargon
The key is balance. Not like you’re talking to your best friend in a bar but also not like you’re interviewing for a job at Buckingham Palace.
When you’re writing, it’s important to strike the right tone. Writing too casually makes your writing seem unprofessional. But too much jargon doesn’t help too. So avoid those.
Finally, try not to use cliche phrases. The thing with cliche is that it makes readers automatically tune out. When you write using fresh language, you persuade your readers to keep reading.
9. Use active voice instead of passive voice
Passive voice often makes our writing longer.
- Passive: The pizza was eaten by Albert.
- Active: Albert ate the pizza.
But more importantly, the active voice gives more action and dynamic to a sentence. Which is something you want when you’re writing.
Use active voice as much as you can. Only use passive when it makes sense. A good rule of thumb would be to ensure your writing is 95% active.
10. TRIPLE check names, company titles, job titles, etc
No one likes to be addressed wrongly. Many people even find it disrespectful when you spell their name wrong.
I know people in business who immediately delete emails when their name is spelled wrong. And that’s understandable.
When someone gets a name wrong, it’s often a sign they’re not good with details. Which is something successful people don’t appreciate.
So always triple-check everything before you hit send.
When you combine the 10 tips of this article, I guarantee your business writing will improve drastically.