5 Ways to Improve Your Written Business Communication
No matter how long you’ve been working in the business world or what your position is, there’s always room to improve your written communication.
Why bother doing so? Because your writing has the power to enhance or inhibit productivity and improve or erode working relationships. It serves as your first impression for anyone with whom you interact primarily in writing, and it reinforces that impression every time you communicate with clients, coworkers, and higher-ups.
That’s a lot of pressure (especially if it’s been years since you took an English Composition course). But the good news is, a few simple strategies can help take your written business communication to the next level. Here’s how to make it happen.
Provide people with the information they need to take action
Hunting through massive email chains isn’t just annoying—it also costs businesses billions of dollars a year in lost productivity. Help stem the tide of this epidemic by making sure your emails include all the information necessary for people to take action. Use a distinct subject line for each new topic, and make sure the body of your emails addresses who the information is relevant to, highlights what they need to know, and makes clear if and how you’re hoping they’ll respond to this information. Including all of this information up front will save everybody time and earn you favor among your coworkers.
As addressed above, the goal of written business communication is to be as clear and concise as possible. That means writing much like you might speak, not packing your emails so full of jargon that they’re virtually indecipherable. “Let’s get together to co-create opportunities for leveraging our synergies” means, basically, nothing. Ditch trying to sound like the smartest person in the ethosphere and embrace sensible language instead.
Proofread, proofread, proofread
This one can’t be stressed enough. Nothing undermines your professionalism faster than writing “butt” when you meant “but.” So don’t leave grammar and spelling up to chance. Instead, carefully proofread your emails at least twice before hitting “send.” Pay particular attention to whether you’ve correctly spelled people’s names and used the right title and gender identifiers.
Consider your reader
Just as you might behave differently around your closest friends than you would around your boss, it is important to alter your communication depending on the recipient. For example, the use of emojis is probably fine when you’re emailing back and forth with a coworker with whom you have a friendly relationship. But if you’re emailing a board member, steer clear of the orange frowny faces. Bottom line? Before firing off an email, consider whom you’re sending it to—and then edit your writing appropriately.
Wake up on the right side of the bed
This might seem silly, but it’s actually really important. Not getting enough sleep is scientifically proven to make people grumpier at work, which means you’re less likely to communicate professionally and more likely to make a gaff out of irritability. To ensure a brighter mood at the office, make sure you’re going to bed early and waking up in a pleasant way. If you do find yourself at work after an all-nighter, follow this simple rule: Don’t write anything that you wouldn’t want your spouse, children, or parents to read.
The importance of effective business communication can’t be overstated. By taking the time to implement these strategies, you’ll improve your working relationships and help yourself stand out from the pack.