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If panic or procrastination set in when you need to write a business proposal, letter or other important document, it’s time to conquer your writing demons. While an informal, breezy style works for social media or texts, business writing demands more polish. Follow these five tips to become a more effective business writer.
- Think before you write. When you face a tight deadline, it can be very tempting to start writing immediately without any preparation. Resist that urge and you will save yourself a lot of time. Writing is a thought process so before you can write clearly, you must think clearly. Make sure you understand the purpose, format and key points. Complete any necessary research before you start writing. Sharpen your thought process — and writing — by summarizing what you want to communicate in a single sentence.
- Keep it simple. Just as in conversation, the simpler and more direct your writing is, the easier it will be for your readers to understand and to act upon it. Get rid of extraneous thoughts and words and focus on one key message. If five words convey your thought, don’t use ten. Make your message easy to understand.
- Play by the rules. Grammar and spelling are critical to effective communication. Misplaced or missing punctuation, misspelled words or sloppy writing can easily change the meaning of your writing. If you want to communicate effectively, make it easy for readers to understand your message.
- Be clear and compelling. We’ve all had the experience of reading an email only to wonder what the point was. Don’t keep your readers guessing. An email should have a strong, compelling subject line that clearly indicates the purpose. In longer documents, use subheads, bullets and italicized or bold type to help readers understand your thought process.
- Edit relentlessly. Before you edit, put your writing aside if only for a few minutes. Begin editing by reading the document for meaning. Do your ideas unfold logically? Have you included all necessary information? Next, edit for style, striving for clear, concise writing. Avoid jargon and acronyms that will confuse your reader. Finally, edit for spelling, grammar and punctuation. While spell check is a great tool, it does not take the place of proofreading.