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Business Writing Skills - Business Communication Skills

What does your writing say about your personal brand or that of your company?

For all the words you speak during the average day, my guess is that you write with far less confidence—and often less fluently.  Yet your business and your brand depend on what your writing can deliver:   attention-grabbing emails and letters to clients, prospects, and suppliers and marketing collateral such as brochures, flyers, website copy, packaging copy, or marketing plans.   And chances are you blog, tweet, post to Facebook, and comment on LinkedIn discussions.  Occasionally, you may even write an article, a white paper, a speech, … or a check.

In a nutshell, your writing reflects the essence of your personal presence as much as your face-to-face interactions today.  No, I take that back.  Your personal presence as reflected through your writing has become more powerful than face to face because the audience reach has become wider than ever before.

The tips here provide pointers on writing well and quickly.

Think BEFORE you write–not AS you write.

Writing as you think generally means you’ll do two or more drafts—or worse, you’ll hit “Send” and forward a first, often incomplete, jumble of ideas and information. Think. Then write.

Make your bottom-line your opening line.

Avoid the once-upon-a-time structure of going through the details and “background” before getting to the point.

Make the action clear and specific.

Tell readers exactly what you want them to do, or what you yourself expect to do next based on the message you’re sending.  A vague jumble of details can be interpreted in many different ways. If you don’t believe it, stand outside a conference room door and listen to people walk out of a meeting. They often draw varied conclusions after hearing the same presentation. Ditto after reading a document.  Imagine your reader asking, “So what do you want me to DO?”

Put the “doers” in your writing.

Avoid passive verbs in sentences like this:  “The plan should be reviewed before implementation.”  Who is going to review it?  Without the “doer,” key information is missing.  Another example you’ll find in cryptic emails and texting: “Gave her further information on the arrangements discussed” when your readers may be confused about who did the “giving and discussing.”

Avoid cliché closings.

“If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to call” on the end of an email or letter sounds like the second-grader’s “See you later, alligator.”  Friendly, but oh, so worn out. Tailor your closing to fit the communication.  Make it personal.  After all, that’s the purpose of many staying-in-touch emails—building a personal relationship. Why sound like a rubber stamp?

Writing skills have never been more visible—nor more important—than in today’s marketplace with social media.  If you decide yours are too bland to set you apart, add spice to generate a little sizzle.

Dianna Booher, an expert in executive communications, is the author of 45 books, published in 26 countries and 20 languages.  Her latest books include Creating Personal Presence: Look, Talk, Think, and Act Like a Leader and Communicate with Confidence, Revised Edition. As CEO of Booher Consultants and as a high-caliber keynote speaker, Dianna and her staff travel worldwide to deliver focused speeches and training programs to address specific communication challenges and increase effectiveness in oral, written, interpersonal, and organizational communication.

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17 thoughts on “Business Writing: Is Your Business Writing Too Bland to Become Your Brand? 5 Tips to Add Spice”

  1. These are excellent tips. And this is a sobering thought: “Your personal presence as reflected through your writing has become more powerful than face to face because the audience reach has become wider than ever before.” So it is more important than ever to hone your business writing skills.

    1. Thanks, Susan. “Sobering thought” but so true! Consider the ratio of your daily interactions with customers–oral versus written. Then multiply that by some unknown factor of eyes that see what’s written online.

  2. Good tips, thank you!

    I generally find that my ideas for writing have to ‘simmer’ under the surface for a little while. Then often a visual stimulus (or an urgent deadline) will set me off. Add a little midnight oil here and there, and another blog post, newsletter or article comes out. Phew:)

    1. Thea, What you describe is not unusual. Many people write better looking at a different coffee cup or mountain for inspiration–or with a deadline for pressure.

  3. A blog for any business…no matter what it should…should I always include writing that is a little more fun than what you’d find directly on the website.

    1. Max, you make a good point. Blogs generally reflect someone’s personality whereas a website typically just provides interactivity and information.

  4. I don’t know, for me (and perhaps it’s only me that feels this way), I am less concerned with the “rules” and more concerned with how the piece connects with the desired audience. That being said, I tend to gravitate towards conversational toned articles.

    1. I agree, Stacey, that a conversational tone is almost always appropriate. That’s why I typically use “grabber” headlines like the one above. The best writing generally combines a conversational tone with correct grammar to create clear, crisp messages that “connect” (as you so well put it).

  5. I don’t tend to follow the rules. I incorporate story telling when possible when I write and that tends to help with the blog post I’m working on. I suppose everyone is different.

    1. Sukhraj, almost all great writers are great storytellers. If you have lots of blog readers, obviously you’re doing a great job at it!

  6. Diana – What’s that old saying about first impressions? Today, most people encounter a potential business partner online first – whether that be through a website, a blog, or on LinkedIn or another social media site.

    In all of the hype about digital media, we tend to forget that the primary form of communication on digital media is still written. Thank you for the reminder to pay more attention to our writing skills.

    1. You’re right, Michelle, and they may click away without ever making voice or face-to-face contact if the writing doesn’t make the right impression.

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