Top Tips For Better Business Writing
All good writing communicates with readers in a personal way. Good business writing, whether it is a report written for an employer or an email to a client, does that quickly and effectively. You do not need to use overly formal language; it is better to use a neutral style that is akin to conversation, but rather more organized.
In business, your colleagues and clients value their time as much as you do yours. You will save them and yourself time by stating your key points right at the beginning, rather than burying them somewhere later on for readers to dig out.
If your points are too difficult and complex to explain fully at the very beginning, all is not lost. You can still summarize them at the outset then expand on them later. Your initial summary will have primed readers about what to expect and caught their attention.
3 Use everyday words
In the past people in business communicated in a formal style, but nowadays that isn’t always necessary. In fact, formal style can distance people who receive your business emails and memos. Choose the short, everyday words that everyone says: write begin instead of commence, help instead of assist. Here are more everyday words that in most contexts work better than formal ones:
|Everyday & friendly||Formal & distancing|
|✔ find out||ascertain|
|✔ leave out||omit|
If you can’t think of a simpler word, you could consult an online thesaurus. Remember too that some readers may not read English as their first language; everyday words will be easier for them to understand.
Understand Story Structure
Nearly all writing include some type of story. It could be a hypothetical story that you tell your customers to help them understand your product’s benefits or it can be a personal anecdote that you share to illustrate a concept.
Whatever the case, and understanding of basic story structure can help your writing improve. For instance, all stories have conflict. If there is no conflict, there is no tension and no reason to read on.
Additionally, all stories have a beginning, middle, and an end. That’s why movies are divided into three acts. You can use the three-act structure to make your writing more appealing to your target audience.
Focus on Finishing Your Draft Instead of Perfecting It
It’s essential to edit and proofread your copy, but eventually, it needs to be done. Get it to the point where it’s publishable, then move on. Otherwise, you’ll get stuck in a dangerous rut — the kind where you never finish anything.
One way to gauge your content’s flow and readability is to read it out loud. You don’t have to shout every word — a whisper will suffice. You just need to hear the words as they will sound to other readers.
If you’re self-conscious, wait until you’re alone in the office or your home. Alternatively, play some music while you shut yourself in a room. That way, nobody will be able to hear you read your content.
You can also try reading your content backward. Start with the last paragraph and work your way up to the first. This way, you’re not anticipating what you wrote next, so you can listen more carefully for any phrases or sentences that don’t sound harmonious.
GRAMMAR TIPS TO IMPROVE YOUR WRITING IN ENGLISH
For right now, it’s important to know that English is one of the subject + verb + object (SVO) languages, which means that, in order to create a clause that makes sense, you have to start with a subject, follow it with a verb, and then everything else comes after that.
1. Subject + Verb
2. Subject + Verb + Direct Object
3. Subject + Verb + Indirect Object + Direct Object
Remember that “a” is just an article, like “an” or “the,” and we use them with nouns we can count. And the word “his” is a possessive pronoun that tells us who the secret belongs to: Mike.
4. Subject + Verb + Direct Object + Object Complement
5. Subject + Linking verb + Subject Complement
What about questions?
What about adjectives and adverbs?
The phrase “in the red shirt” is an adjective phrase. In this case, we need to use an adjective phrase because we need to describe which guy we’re talking about. We also have to use it because we can’t really say “the red-shirted guy” in English.
What about the passive voice?
But, unless you want to focus on the object, or if you’re writing in an academic or formal context, you should try to stick with the active voice as much as possible because it’s less confusing.
Do I really need to know this?
You don’t have to memorize it, but getting comfortable with the different structures we have in English will help you grow more confident as a writer. You’ll learn to tell the difference between confusing, repetitive sentences and effective, interesting sentences.
Is it really this simple?
English grammar might not always be easy, but it can be this simple if you break it down into simple language. It also takes practice, so remember that if you don’t get it right away, you can work on it in the editing and revision process.
When you break down sentences and clauses in this way, you can see that grammar for writing doesn’t have to be so complicated. Even the most complicated constructions in the English language follow these five basic structures.
Practice Exercise: Combining Sentences
1. Keep your subjects close to your verbs.
2. Vary your sentence length.
In the final chapter of his autobiography, the author talked about his relationship with his son. The two had always had a challenging relationship, and they spent many years without speaking. His son had become an author like his father, and he reached out to his father when he was writing his own first novel. The author describes how difficult this conversation was, but he was glad they had it.
What structure do most of these sentences follow? Every sentence except the first one is a compound sentence. Did you notice how it sounded when you read it? When you don’t vary your sentence structure, your writing will sound a lot less interesting.
In the final chapter of his autobiography, the author talked about his relationship with his son. The two men had always had a challenging relationship, and they spent many years without speaking. That’s why the author was surprised when his son reached out to him. It turned out that his son was an author now, too. In fact, he had just written his first novel. Even though the author describes that first conversation as a difficult one, he was glad they had it.
And did you notice those transitional words and phrases like “That’s why…,” “It turned out…,” and “In fact…?” These phrases help the ideas flow and connect in a more engaging way. So, when you edit your writing to see how your sentence lengths vary, you can also check to see how your sentences connect with each other.
3. Use parallel structure.