Five Written Communication Skills for Everyone
If you’re a student, you are likely no stranger to writing papers. You have probably even taken a course that is only about writing your papers properly. However, it never hurts to polish your skills and take a look at a few things you might have forgotten. You can even learn how to say more with fewer words.
The same goes if you’re actually a worker—whether you’re CEO, manager, an employee, or even searching for a job. You have likely written something at some point, and you might want to brush up on some skills you might have lost since your school days.
Even those of you that write creatively will want to brush up on written communication skills. Anyone who has ever picked up a book knows that you don’t write creatively in the same way that you would write a pitch letter or some other kind of advertisement for your wonderful piece.
Three Very Important Skills to Remember Before You Begin
1. Structure—How are you going to lay out your writing?
As a student, you will well remember just how much your teachers would focus on making certain you wrote logically and clearly. One way to remember to write in a logical order is to remember that the introduction is for telling your reader what you’re going to write about, the body is to write about what you said you were going to write about with all the facts and proof you might need, and the conclusion is to summarize what you wrote about.
You should also remember that using long sentences—like the one above—could make you lose track of your idea. The same can be said for paragraph length; a good rule of thumb is that each paragraph should encompass one idea. If that one idea has a lot of different key points, you can use headings, sub-headings, and bullet points. For students using MLA format, however, such structuring isn’t permitted.
2. Style—In what way are you going to write?
Creative writers will know well that whatever you’re writing, you have to keep the audience in mind. If you’re writing a children’s book for children around the age of five to ten, you’re not going to use words like “pluvial” when you can easily say “rainy.” However, if you’re a meteorologist writing a scholarly report to your peers, you are more likely to use “pluvial” instead.
There are three things to keep in mind to help you decide on the style required. First, you should decide how much information you need to give your readers. Are they your peers? Are they within your age group? Have they read the same piece that you might be discussing? A meteorologist studying the weather might describe a chance of rain using scientific terms. However, when he sends that report on to the everyday man, he might use more common-day terms. This leads to the next item to keep in mind. You might also need to know how to better communicate during a crisis in your business.
You will have to decide what kinds of terms to use in your writing. A CEO writing to members of the board might use percentages and other terms that would be of use to the company to describe their financial standing. However, if he were writing a monthly company newsletter to his employees, he might use simpler terms since not all of his employees would have an accounting or finance background.
Finally, you have to decide if your writing should be formal or informal. For students, most of your writing will be formal. You will be expected to follow a specific laid-out format like MLA or APA, and you will have to regard words like “gonna” or “yep” as words that will get your paper an instant F grade. You can use these 7 tools to learn how to communicate with tact.
3. Content—What are you writing?
It is very rare when a person sits down to write something with no idea in mind regarding what they will write. Even creative writers, though many don’t use outlines or other tools to help keep their writing going on in a logical order, have an idea in mind before they sit down with pen in hand. When writing formally, you should already have a clear objective in mind.
You should also start with an outline or a mind map to keep your writing on track. When writing for work, it is very essential to remember all of the points you need to recover and to cover them clearly. If you see that one of your ideas seems a bit obscure, add more detail so people don’t get confused.
Two Important Skills to Remember After You’ve Finished
Any good student knows that grammar is very important when writing essays. However, it’s important for workers to know that grammar is important for their reports. Job seekers should also note that grammar is important even in a resume or query letter. No possible employer wants to read sentences that go from past to present, and poor punctuation won’t help either.
If your spelling is poor, you might want to consider investing in a dictionary, and job seekers might want to consider looking for positions that will allow their poor spelling skill to be overlooked. Microsoft Word has a nifty built-in spellchecker that poor spellers can use to help them too. If you don’t know how to use Microsoft Word, you can learn by taking an online class.
When writing business-related communication, it’s very important to double-check your spelling. According to BBC News, a simple spelling mistake can cost an online business millions in lost online sales. A simple spelling error on a website can make consumers feel like they’re entering some kind of spam site or a phishing scam.
No matter if you’re writing for business, school, or pleasure it’s important to keep five things in mind—structure, style, content, grammar, and spelling. Without those skills, your ideas will be nothing more than a jumbled batch of words that no one will be able to understand.
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