Effective Business Writing
Effective business writing skills are a critical component in this day of the consistently written business report and the abundant use of the instant Email communication. Whether you are in management or an entry-level employee, communicating in a professional and clear manner will not only make your job much easier but will help you to document your conversations with a permanent paper trail that can be useful in potential disputes or clarifications. Always remember that any electronic message can be easily retrieved for an indefinite period of time. Make sure that your message is clear and precise in order to protect yourself from future liability issues or litigation in a court of law.
One of the more common mistakes that are witnessed throughout the corporate world is the issuing of a report or Email that is filled with grammatical and punctuation errors. Even though the message may be perfectly clear, communications with these types of errors make a terrible first impression. Your professional reputation may take a big hit. Sloppy or disorganized content that is difficult to follow and understand is also one of the leading problems. Jumping from one topic to another without completing each thought leads to frustration by the reader. Also, writing a report or Email that is either too long or too short is another common mistake. Make your point quickly and completely without the need for the reader to send a follow-up message.
Organize your Thoughts
When writing an important professional announcement, business letter, report or Email, you may want to go through a couple of initial drafts. Organizing your thoughts is critical to ensuring that your message will be received successfully. There are different ways to achieve this. You might begin by creating a bullet point outline of the topics in which you want to discuss. Or you might simply sit down at your computer and begin typing your message. If you choose the second option, plan on spending some extra time afterward, proofreading and editing the wording to its most clear and concise form.
Consider the Reader
You might have different writing styles depending on whether you are writing your report or Email to a superior or to a subordinate. Always consider the level of expertise and skill of the reader. In communicating with a CFO, for example, your communications may require a higher level of detail and supporting documentation. However, if you are simply giving direction to a subordinate for a specific project or task, “less is more” may be the rule to live by. Keep the message short and to-the-point so that the employee does not waste valuable time reading and deciphering an overly lengthy Email.
Proofread, Proofread, Proofread
Whether you are writing your report or Email for a superior or subordinate, always make sure to proofread, proofread, proofread. This takes only a few seconds and the resulting positive effects can raise your professional level of respect as viewed by either party. Don’t be afraid to move words around, delete unclear phrases, or to provide additional information to further clarify a point. Fix errors and clean up inconsistencies. Some professionals prefer to proofread as they go along while others prefer to complete this process once the first draft of the document has been completed. Either method is acceptable, but proofreading of all documents, letters, emails, and reports is a critical factor in leading to professional success.