Effective business communication: Apply the five Cs of good style to your professional writing.
Your business ideas are only as good as your ability to communicate them. You may have a concept that could really change lives, but if you can’t convince an investor to back it, it may remain nothing more than an idea.
Of course, that is an extreme example, but the concept should come through on many levels. There are opportunities everyday that your company might fit very well; or, if you are a job seeker, there may be positions available that fit your skills perfectly. But in any professional scenario, you need to have a great way to get the message across so simple communication doesn’t stand in the way of your business goals.
Practically universal to good writing, five elements of style apply to your business communications. Here, they will be addressed specifically with business writing in mind. If you want to start improving your writing today, check out this course on essentials to boost your writing skills.
The last thing you want to do when trying to get through to busy professionals is to make your points difficult to comprehend. So one of the main goals in your business writing should be clarity.
There are a few steps you can take to easily achieve clarity in your writing:
1. Outline your message before you fill in specifics. This will help you prioritize the most important information so the reader can identify it easily.
2. Write in a descriptive, active voice. Writing in passive voice does more than dull your writing. It also creates awkward phrasing that can make readers struggle with your meaning.
3. Vary long and short sentences. If all of your sentences are brief, your communication will lack readability. If they are all long, it will lack definition. Putting your main points in direct, short sentences and dedicating longer sentences to description will put emphasis on the critical information, ultimately supporting better comprehension.
4. Practice good parallelism. A very important factor in good writing, and fundamental aspect of clarity, is paralellism. In essence, paralellism refers to the consistency of phrases or or word-forms that repeat. This concept can take some time to grasp, but make sure you become familiar with it and how writers use it for clarity.
Making an impact with business writing takes more than just making yourself clear. It’s also critical to know what you can omit in a given context so that each word you include drives toward your main communication goal. This way, people will not just understand you, they will more likely be persuaded by the information. This is the argument for concise communication.
When you are reviewing your writing to make sure it’s as concise as possible, you can ask yourself these questions:
1. Does this need to be said? In other words, is each word and phrase helping make your point, or is it simply there because it was necessary for your writing process? You can easily eliminate phrases like “I think” or “in my opinion,” but also ask yourself, for each phrase you include, if it is moving your point forward or simply taking up space.
2. Is this the most efficient way to say this? It is a great strategy to vary short and long sentences for clarity. But that does not mean you should make a sentence longer than it needs to be by adding superfluous words. To balance language so it flows well and and makes the most of its space, you may need to rearrange elements.
This kind of revision can be one of the trickiest practices in writing. But you can get started on learning how to do it today in a course that teaches you to write persuasively.
Business moves quickly. If you have spent some time in a corporate environment you no doubt have seen many rushed memos and emails with grammar, punctuation, and spelling mistakes. Don’t let this kind of thing fool you; it is very important to make your writing as correct as possible. Certainly you will want to avoid any major, distracting errors.
It may be said that professional correspondence is an area that emphasizes correctness more than most other contexts for communication. Other professionals expect not only impeccable mechanics and spelling, but also adherence to accepted standards for specific writing formats. That means you want to really get to know the standards for the type of writing you are doing. You can, for example, learn everything you need to know about email for business in a course that teaches you to write exceptional email correspondence.
Have you ever read something that seemed as though it were jumping from one idea to the next, and you couldn’t understand how it all fit together? There may very well have been some organizing principle behind it all. But the writer did not help you understand what that was.
That is essentially why cohesiveness is important. Particularly when your target audience is pressed for time, you need to draw clear lines connecting the dots. Here are two of the most important tools to accomplish this:
1. Topic sentences: Make your point clear in each paragraph. Do not leave it implied.
2. Conjunctions and transitions: connect the logic between your statements and paragraphs with words that help make the connections clear. These include conjunctions (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so) and conjunctive adverbs (e.g. therefore, however).
You can get an especially strong understanding of how to write a cohesive document in an online course on paragraph and essay writing.
Business writing is action-oriented. You are approaching the communication with an action in mind for your reader. And no matter what you are trying to get your reader to do, you had better make it clear why they should do it.
Control of a written piece refers to how well the elements in your writing come together to meet their purpose. There should be a clear path supporting your call to action. And every element should help your reader down that path. Keep this in mind with every review of your business communication.
If you want to get the best opportunities for your business or your career, or if you want to have an influence in professional circles, do not underestimate the importance of strong communications. By following established standards of written style, you will go far toward getting what you want from the professional world.
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