There’s a lot of great advice about business writing these days. But the average person just can’t read it all, let alone remember it all.
Even if it’s been 20 years since business school, many people can still remember the “4 P’s of Marketing” (product, price, place, promotion). So, I’m often asked if there’s something similar for business writing?
Of course, as a writing coach and consultant, I always want everyone to apply everything we teach in our courses or include in our books. But if you’re looking for a few simple rules to remember before hitting that “send” button on your email, then take time to remember these three things:
- Process. Work the steps of good business writing: who is your audience? What’s the bottom line (or the most important point of your message)? Why should the audience care? And is it visually pleasing enough, or visually organized in a way that helps the reader get through the text?
- Proofread. Take time to really proofread your work. Nothing’s more distracting than seeing a misused “its” or “you’re” in an email. It’s like seeing spinach in someone’s teeth: once you see it, it’s hard to not look, and it ultimately distracts you from the speaker’s message. With good software like Grammar.ly available these days, there’s really no excuse to not proofread your work.
- Politeness. Remember the old saying “you can catch more flies with honey?” Or as I like to say, “kill ‘em with kindness?” While email and text messaging can be convenient, these messages can often come across as stiff or abrupt if you’re not careful. Take the time to really think about the tone that comes through in your writing. And yes, your mother was right: manners matter. While you may think “it’s their job” to do what you’re asking them to do (or, in fact telling them to do), you don't have to sound like a drill sergeant barking out orders. “Please” and “thank you,” or “thanks in advance” can go a long way toward getting what you want when you want it.
Your writing is a reflection of you: your professionalism, your business acumen, and your competency. You don’t need to be a perfect writer. Even “average writers” can be superstar communicators – but you do need to take the time to consistently apply these basic principles of business writing.
Want to learn more about improving your writing? Check out this webinar I did with HRDQ.com about this topic.