Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.
What’s one way to improve your business writing?
1. Eliminate Unnecessary Words
It takes time to read every word of an email, and even longer to sift through a wordy, unnecessarily long email. After I finish drafting an email, I scan it to get rid of any words that don’t contribute to what I’m actually trying to say. Using this strategy has helped me send shorter, more concise emails and receive faster responses.
2. Make It Active
One way to improve your business writing is to make it active. I encourage my employees to avoid “to be” verbs, the word “is” and the suffix “-ing” in order to avoid sounding passive. I understand that it’s sometimes easier to use these verbs. However, they can often be made active with small changes or simple rewording.
3. Read Your Work Aloud
Talking is the best form of business communication. Unfortunately, no one has time to pick up the phone, especially if you’re trying to sell. So, do the next best thing: Bring your human voice into your business writing. When drafting an email, proposal or other business content, read your writing out loud to make sure it sounds clear, accessible and natural to your ears.
4. Study the Business Writers You Love
If you have any favorite writers/bloggers in your field that you really respect, studying them is one of the most effective ways to develop a style that’s already compatible with your instincts. Think carefully when you read their work about how they begin and end, what types of words they use, and what kind of attitude they seem to bring to their work. Testing these out in your own work will help.
5. Make the Reader Feel Like a Genius
We write a lot of technical documents and the thing that sets us apart is that we make the reader feel like a genius. This is accomplished by taking the complex and breaking it down into something that a middle school student could follow. Telling someone that you are intelligent is a turn-off. Making someone feel intelligent is a huge turn-on.
6. Make Your Writing Accessible and Understandable
Whenever possible, use everyday language rather than jargon. If you have to use industry jargon, make sure you define it for people who aren’t familiar with it. Don’t assume your readers have vast knowledge of the field. For example, my company helps businesses improve their credit, but I’ve discovered that many business owners need to be educated on the fundamentals.
7. Get Feedback (Even If It’s Harsh)
It’s almost impossible to notice errors and room for improvement in your own work, especially for something as abstract as writing. That’s why I never shy away from feedback, and I always try to avoid sugarcoating when it comes to reviewing business writing. Although it might sting at first, you’ll quickly improve your writing if you consistently practice and seek out criticism.
8. Use an Editing Tool
There are plenty of editing tools available online that can help you strengthen your writing by showing you where it should be changed. ProWritingAid has an online editing tool that’s free to use, and it analyzes your writing to generate 26 reports to show you where improvements can be made. Another key component is to study really good business writing.
9. Write Every Day
There is not a more proven technique for enhancing one’s writing than to write often. Even if the majority of that writing is done in private journals, it’s important to write every day. Not only will it help to build the habit of writing, but it will also expose what topics/styles work well for your voice and focus future writing projects.
I pick up a lot about style and grammar just by reading books and articles. It has taught me a lot about how to phrase things and how to use certain words to influence others. Reading has also increased my vocabulary, which has enhanced my business writing.
11. Take A Course
There are numerous online courses at local colleges that teach business writing. There are also online tutorials on YouTube and other sites. You may even work with a tutor in an offline or online relationship. All these are good learning experiences for improving your writing.