What is Good Business Writing?
Writing is a way of sending a message. Good writing delivers the message clearly and concisely. There is a bracing quality to good writing. Good writing is invigorating to the reader. Good writing is good business because the reader appreciates the effort of a written message that is strong and clear.
Use Plain Language
Sometimes when you are talking among experts, it makes sense to use language that is specialized (jargon). But most of the time there is an advantage is writing in language that is clear and plain. While there are times when a long, intricate sentence may be indicated, most of the time readers appreciate sentences that are short. It will not do to have all sentences the same length.
Good writing is generally created out of plain words and is presented in the active voice. While there are exceptions, short words and paragraphs tend to be more appreciated by busy readers (remember our thoughts here concern business and commercial writing not novels and poems.)
Good writing is well organized and reflective of good clear thinking. It is specific rather than general. It makes use of standard English. It is well punctuated, carefully proof-read and presently neatly. In short, good writing is living proof that the writer has the best interest of the reader at he art.
But enough theory, let’s begin helping you find the best words for your business.
The First Revelation
If you want to write effectively, it is a good idea to put the needs of the reader first. This may seem obvious but you would be surprised how many people think that first and foremost writing is a way for the writer to express himself (or herself.) There is a notion that lives in the mind of some people that books get written by inspired people who reach down into themselves and just write down what comes out. Maybe there are poems, novels and plays that get written that way, but if you want your words to sell something, it is important to write for the reader. The reader doesn’t care if you express yourself. The reader needs something and it’s your job to find the best words to let the reader know that you can meet that need.
To give the reader this kind of confidence you have be sure that:
Your message is clearly defined. (English translation: You need to know what you want to say.
The message must be clearly written (You need to find the words to say it.)
It’s important to note that defining your message and writing your message are two separate steps on the process. Don’t worry about the right words when you define your message, just try to get to the meaning. You will find that once you know what you want to say, it’s much easier to find the right words.
Know your Reader
It’s also a good idea to have a profile of your audience in mind before you begin to write. Who is your typical reader? What does your reader want? What does he know? What does your reader think is important? The more you know about your reader, the easier it will be to find the right words.
Don’t be afraid to address the reader directly. Using the word “You” is an effective form of address and can help you get closer to your reader. Example: Are you concerned about your financial future? Would you like to hit a forehand like Andre Agassi?
When you set out to win new customers for your product or service you will probably have a number of different points to make. Your first job is to make a list of everything you want to say and prioritize that list. Decide which messages are most important and which are still important but less so. Before you start writing organize your messages in a clear, logical manner.
Use Short Paragraphs, Short Sentences and Simple Words
Many people believe that good writing means using big words and complex sentence constructions. Actually the reverse is true. Short paragraphs are easier to control, easier to read and more inviting to the reader. The same is true with short sentences. Short sentences are easier to read and require less from the reader than long sentences which may require more effort from the reader. Simple words tend to communicate more effectively than longer words. Remember, when you are writing to sell something the idea is not to impress the audience with your vocabulary, it is simply to present your message as simply as clearly as you can. It is much easier to do this by using short plain words. You can’t go wrong using plain language. Even a highly educated audience with not resent a message written in clear short simple words.
Business people are busy people. Help them out by getting to the point quickly and not using any unnecessary words. It is hard to be concise. Remember the fellow who apologized for writing his friend such a long letter because he “didn’t have the time to write a short one.”