How much time do we waste fretting over how to put our thoughts down on paper? Does writing for an audience of senior managers or key stakeholders make you hesitant and unsure?
Many of us, although confident and articulate when we speak, fumble for the right words and tone when we write. Improving your business writing will help you succeed.
By cultivating this skill you can write e-mails, proposals, and other important documents to persuade, influence and ultimately win people over. However, poor business writing skills will lose you time, money, and influence.
Here are a few tips for effective business writing:
- Use short sentences. More than fifteen words in a sentence reduces the clarity of the meaning. Once you have written your communication, find the commas. ‘and’s and ‘but’s and replace with full-stops.
- Avoid jargon, acronyms and technical terms unless they are essential.
- To make your writing easier to read avoid using capital letters – even for headings. Capital letters are difficult to read because there are no word-shapes, merely blocks of text. (We read quickly by seeing word shapes, not the individual letters.) Use 10-12 font size for the main text. Font 14-20 for main headings, bold or normal. Sub-headings 10-12 bold.
- Any printed material looks very untidy if more than two different fonts, or font sizes, are used. In general terms the fewer fonts and sizes the better.
- If your organisation stipulates a ‘house’ font then use it. If your organisation doesn’t then it may help to introduce one.
In business writing we often seek to persuade or influence the reader. It was Aristotle that first introduced persuasion as a skill that could be learned. Aristotle’s model ‘Three Modes of Persuasion’, sets out the principles for how an audience, or listener determines the validity and quality of written or spoken communications, and crucially whether to take action accordingly. These principles are still as fundamentally useful and significant today as they were 2300 years ago when Aristotle first proposed them.
The essential elements are as follows and can be described as the ingredients of successful communications:
- Ethos – The integrity of the communicator.
- Pathos – The emotional effect (of communicator and message) on the listener/reader/audience.
- Logos – The relevance and strength of the message content.
Each of the above are consciously and unconsciously assessed by the audience according to many indicators and factors and together, they are the three persuasive appeals. In other words, these are the three essential qualities that your communication must have before your audience will accept your message. Most importantly they build credibility, stir emotions, and prompt action.
Finally, in conclusion and having said all that! Remember that effective written communication is enabling the reader to understand your meaning in as few words as possible.
If writing proposals, business cases or general business writing is one of the skills you would like to develop further then consider our highly interactive, practical and experiential Formal Persuasive Writing in house training course which ill help save you time, improve the quality of your wrtiing and allow you to connect more effectively with your readers. Or if you prefer please call us to find out more about our Business Writing Skills in house training courses.