Do the letters, memos or reports have the impact you want? Try these pointers.
1. Get to the point quickly
Tell readers what you are saying in the first sentence, or perhaps in the heading. Business writing shouldn’t keep people in suspense. Aim to give your readers the main point in the minimum of reading.
2. Use ‘no fuss’ language
Short words, short sentences and short paragraphs – usually. Don’t write to impress, write to persuade. Use simple words as much as possible – more people understand simple words than complex words. Long sentences, even ones that are grammatically correct, can be difficult to understand because readers have to grasp many ideas before coming to a full stop for breath. One sentence, one thought.
3. Organise in a logical structure
Divide your writing into bite-size chunks – small units of information that your readers can get their heads around. Around 5 to 7 sections works best. In longer documents use sub-sections, again 5 to 7 at each level.
4. Write for readers
Write to meet your readers’ needs, answer the questions they have. Don’t dump everything you know on them. Think about the benefit readers’ will receive from investing time reading your writing.
5. Know your purpose
Business writing always has a purpose, usually to impact the thinking or behaviour of people. Be sure you know what you want your readers to do as a result of reading your document. Without this clearly in mind, how will you ever know what to write?