Whether you're courting customers or pushing for promotion, writing well at work can help you (and your business) succeed. So it's well worth investing a little time and effort in your business writing.

Good business writing is worth the effort. Photo Unhindered by Talent

Most of us write at work. In fact, technology such as the Internet means some of us are writing more than ever before. And this gives us all a fantastic opportunity. Why? Because, as linguistics expert Professor David Crystal puts it:

Words are the currency of human communication. Intrinsic to every aspect of our lives, they inform all that we do and colour our perception of the world. To quote Kipling, words are ‘the most powerful drug used by mankind’.”

Writing well gives you the chance to persuade people, to influence them and to get your ideas across. If you’re writing a technical report or memo, you want people to read it and understand the contents. If you’re asking people for help, you’ll need to persuade them to lend you a hand.

Everyday life in business is full of examples where being able to write effective, persuasive, compelling sentences is a really useful skill. So how do you do it?

Three steps to better business writing

Effective business writing is about making sure you get the basics right and then making the extra effort that will make your words really engaging. Here are our three steps to better business writing:

1. Be clear

Above all, business writing needs to get things done. And to do that, you need to be able to write clearly and concisely — to help someone understand what you mean and what you want as quickly as possible.

This might sound simple but it’s something that gets forgotten, sometimes with serious consequences. The inquiry into the space shuttle Columbia crash found that unclear communication on PowerPoint slides had contributed to a misunderstanding of the dangers the spacecraft faced.

2. Be stylish

In business writing, a little style goes a long way. You don’t have to transform progress reports into poems or emails into elegies. But you can take advantage of stylistic devices to make your words work harder.

This means taking advantage of certain qualities in language that people find appealing or compelling. For example, we like lists of three; people find them particularly persuasive. And we’re also fond of a bit of friendly alliteration.

3. Be yourself

To be really effective, your business writing needs to make a personal connection with your reader. It’s the written equivalent of making eye contact.

So you have to relax, be yourself and let a little personality into your business writing.

Learn more about effective business writing

We'll post more about business writing here on our blog. Subscribe to our RSS feed and you’ll get tips on everything from how to build an argument to when you should break the rules.

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