Writing is an artform and I invite you to become an artist.
Business writing seems to be infinitely easier than writing advertising copy or a novel but there are many similarities.
All forms of successful communication need to have a human element. It should feel like taking your reader by the hand and carefully guide them towards an outcome. The copywriter wants a sale and the novel writer wants an emotional and thrilling journey. The business writer wants an easily identified problem and a clear, logical developed path towards a crystal-clear solution.
Writing for business in a second language can create many hurdles – some of them technical, some of them emotional. Don’t let writing kill your confidence! Decide to become a good writer today and start implementing these five strategies.
1. Connect with your reader
Most human beings are pretty predictable. They want to connect. It’s in our DNA.
Setting the right tone in writing is easy and will influence how your reader digests the rest of your message.
Be POSITIVE: Start the message by writing a small acknowledgement, thought or observation of them e.g. How are your exams going?
Be CONCERNED: Empathise with a situation they are in e.g. I heard you’ve got a large deadline coming up – I’m sure it will go well.
Be FRIENDLY: Use chatty yet professional language by writing phrasal verb, informal salutations and invitations where appropriate e.g. Let’s find a time to schedule a zoom call sometime next week.
2. Know your reader
Diving into a deeper understanding of your reader can help you connect more effectively and efficiently. Don’t assume you know your reader without first asking yourself a few questions: what might they already know about this subject; how might they feel about it; and what do they need from me?
3. Use strong verbs
If you want to increase your vocabulary, focus on the verbs. English is a language driven by verbs more than nouns. I find most people intuitively do the opposite. Click here to get my Secret Business Words: that will skyrocket your career to improve your business writing.
Strong verbs allow you to shape your audience’s response, influence their perceptions and guide them towards an answer. Strong verbs hit the mark with precision, are specific and are chosen carefully. They SHOW, not TELL.
Instead of writing, ‘It is better to use strong verbs if you want to be a good writer’, you might say, ‘Good writing demands the use of strong verbs.’ See how the second one is more powerful?
4. Common phrases but not too common
Business English writing is much less creative than Shakespeare or J. K. Rowling! You only really need a small portfolio of common phrases. But do be careful! Some ‘common phrases’ have become so common that they have turned into clichés. Don’t write clichés! They lack sincerity – so, write what you mean and mean what you write.
Instead of writing, ‘Thanks in advance’, you might say, ‘Let me know what you think and if you have any questions.’
Structure – 5 Ws and the H
Structure is imperative for short emails but even more so for long format memos and reports. Your business writing can become unnecessarily complicated and you don’t want that!
Instead of writing a rambling email and hitting send, give it a moment and ask yourself if you have covered off the 5ws and the h – who, what, when, where, why and how. This way you can make sure you covered everything concisely and succinctly – usually in one sentence of less than 26 words.
To find out more about being a better business writer and how apply the best structures, words and tone set up a short zoom meeting with Leonie Tillman or take the Mini Writing Roadmap eLearning course.
SHORT COURSE: Mini Writing Roadmap: Best Practice online mini course
You will receive a short video into your inbox daily for five days. The videos will outline how to start a report or email and the best way to get your ideas clearly articulated, structured and edited.
This is a unique offer for $97+GST – REGISTER HERE
Leonie Tillman is an international communication specialist and the owner of English for Business working with the staff of multinational organisations to increase their linguistic and cultural communication confidence – [email protected]