6 Guidelines for Communicating Your Business in Writing
You may not consider yourself a writer, but consider the amount of business writing you produce on any given workday. Use these writing tips to do it better.
Radicati estimates the number of business emails sent and received per day in 2015 in the U.S. was over 112 billion (of the 205 billion total). Even spam emails have to be composed by someone.
Compare to that the number of phone calls made in the U.S. per day, around 3 billion, according to Texas Insider.
I don’t have a degree in math, but I’m pretty sure that email number is bigger.
And the number of texts sent every day is somewhere in the zillions.
Mental Floss says the number of websites in the world exceeded 1 billion well over a year ago.
My point is there’s a lot of writing out there, and you’re the one writing it. So, guess what. You’re a writer. The reason why I have a job is because I’m better at it than a lot of you.
So, if you want better writing for your website and corporate communications, hire me. Seriously, click here and hire me.
And for your day-to-day emails and attached memos, you can follow these writing tips – these few simple rules to write better writing.
1. Use your title wisely. Keep it short and pinpoint the reason why your email must be read. ‘Our Presentation Today’ is fine, but less motivating than ‘Our Presentation Numbers Have Changed.’ If you can’t think of why your email must be read, maybe you don’t need to send it. If you follow nothing else, try to follow this. It’s probably the most important of all the writing tips.
2. I’ve often heard creative consultants advise people to “write like you talk”. Their point is to keep your language familiar. This keeps you from trying to sound smart, which is the surest way in the world to sound stupid. Know your vocabulary and write within it. Though the point is valid, I disagree slightly with this advice. Do not write like you talk. Write like you would want to talk. Have you ever wished you could “self-edit” after you spoke? When you write, you can quite literally self-edit before you communicate. A filter is more effective when it has time to work.
3. Auto-spell check is both a miracle and a curse. The famous “your mother and I are going to divorce” which was texted to an adult son, was supposed to read “your mother and I are going to Disney.” Way less likely to ruin that guy’s weekend. Check your spell check. For this and the previous tip, edit – read what you wrote before you send it – so that your audience feels that reading your email is worth their time. Everyone knows how busy you are, and typos are forgivable, but a sloppy email, no matter what it says, communicates that the message wasn’t worth the time it took to properly communicate it.
4. Stay affirmative. I do not mean stay happy, though that would be nice. Write what you want done, what you intend to do, not what you don’t. Do not write what you do not want someone to do. It takes longer and gets confusing, like that last sentence did.
5. Do NOT emote using visual elements and redundant punctuation!!!! If you are concerned, excited, or need to motivate, use your words. Five exclamation points and 14-point, bolded italics doesn’t say “let’s go, team”, it says “I’m a 9-year-old girl who can’t believe what Skylar did at recess today.
6. Last of the writing tips: Be concise. Get to the point. Then stop. One way to do this is to write short sentences. William Strunk, co-writer of The Elements of Style, famously said “omit needless words…. Vigorous writing is concise.” Minimize adjectives. Omit needless detail (a rule I break almost constantly). Give enough information for your readers to move forward. Remember, your readers have got 100 billion other emails to read today.