Whether you own your business or work for someone else, communicating ideas, updates, product descriptions, and more all require you to understand the fundamentals of business writing. Few people, even those for whom writing comes easily, are automatically good at writing specifically for business purposes. It takes time and practice to be effective in this area, but thankfully there are several tips and tricks to help you master business writing faster.
“Good writing is thinking made visible.” -Bill Wheeler
Don’t miss out on potential deals, partnerships, or other opportunities because you lack the finesse of a seasoned wordsmith. When communicating information about your products or business, the following tips should be kept in mind to help you articulate your points: be fresh, be concise, outline or plan, be conversational, and change your point of view.
- Be Fresh
You’ll never write with your full potential if you’re tired, scatter-brained, or stressed. Try blocking off the first couple hours of your work day to handle writing and editing tasks so that you are fresh. If you still find yourself feeling scattered or stressed, try jotting down all of the thoughts in your head to get more clarity. This will help you prioritize and come back to being present with your writing work. A short meditation or breathing exercise can also be helpful.
- Be Concise
Whether you’re writing copy for your website or a product description, it always pays to be concise. Too much fluff dilutes your points. Being direct ensures the value propositions and other items you want to highlight shine through unobstructed. However, being concise on the first draft is extremely difficult, so don’t be too hard on yourself when you’re getting your ideas onto the page. Reserve time for editing in your workflow, so that you can review and trim the fat from your writing. This will lessen the pressure you feel when you first begin drafting.
- Outline or Plan
Starting to write without an outline or plan can spell disaster. We are all prone to follow wandering thoughts down rabbit holes, which can distort the theme or message of your work. Making an outline or plan before you begin will ensure you stay on-topic, help you write more concisely, and make sure everything you write flows smoothly from one point to the next.
- Be Conversational
Business writing is all about connecting with your customers, so using industry-specific jargon, acronyms, or big words should be avoided. After all, if you’re a scientist trying to convey facts to the public without speaking on a level that the lay person could understand, you may as well just say nothing at all. If people can’t relate to what you’re communicating, they will navigate away from your website or email message. If they feel talked down to, which often happens with jargon, they will feel frustrated or that you don’t actually understand their problems–in which case, your business solutions will never be considered by those customers.
- Change Your Point of View
Before the editing process begins, review your work from the perspective of your customer. If you have multiple use cases, put yourself in the shoes of each one and re-read your work. Do you understand how it solves their problem? Do you understand the value from the customer perspective? If not, then think about how you could make that customer see the solution and value, and then edit your work accordingly.
Greatness requires time and skillbuilding. However, there are several tricks you can use while you’re learning to write well that will boost your skill level in less time. Dedicated practice, utilizing online writing tools, being an objective editor, along with experimenting and iterating, are a few such tricks.
- Dedicated Practice
Becoming a great writer (for any field) requires an immense amount of practice. Carving out at least fifteen minutes a day to practice writing and editing will not only improve the overall quality of your work, but it will also make you more efficient and less prone to writer’s block and other issues.
- Online Learning Tools
Feeling stuck on how to articulate an idea or struggling with writer’s block or procrastination are common issues you face as a writer. Using free online writing tools can help you move past these problems by giving you the tools to communicate your ideas exactly. Paraphrasing tools are also helpful for those whose first language isn’t English because they can help you see words and phrases in context, while also providing you with synonyms and additional options for both words and phrases.
- Objective Editing
Sometimes during the editing process, you fall in love with a specific word or phrase, even if it doesn’t add very much to your point. In these cases, you need to be objective in your editing. Even if you like how something sounds, if it’s just fluff or adds detail that isn’t completely necessary, let it go. Keep your writing direct and to-the-point.
- Experimenting and Iterating
Often in business writing, you aren’t sure what tactics will work the best–especially in areas where you hope for engagement, such as in email campaigns. Set up experiments with A/B testing to see what resonates with your audience the most so that you have the data to make the best decisions possible. Send half of your list Email A and the other half Email B, then measure your different metrics to see what worked best. Once you know what works better, perhaps it was tone, word choice, or different examples, you can iterate on this for other types of writing for your business–like website copy or product descriptions.
Look over the materials you have for your business. Are your points clear and direct? Think about how the above tips and tricks might be used to improve your business writing, and then be ruthless in your pursuit of great copy for your cause. Writing might not be easy, but it is worth the effort to effectively communicate the value and mission of your business or products.
Emily Perry, PhD is a Business Development Specialist at QuillBot, PhD, and former educator who loves all things art and also her loyal pup, Cass. She graduated with her PhD from the Colorado School of Mines in 2019 and is passionate about edtech, the democratization of education, and self-expression through art of all kinds.