Thanks to email, people in business has to write intelligently every now and then. Unfortunately, that doesn’t automatically mean that everyone knows the ins and outs of proper business writing. Follow these six tips to instantly get better at crafting emails and other types of business copy.
1. Clarity is the top priority in business writing.
A lot of the time, successful people want to use “big” words because they think it makes them sound smart. In truth, though, this makes the message less clear and it can make the professional seem like they’re trying too hard. Professionals, such as Ian MacKechnie, know that being straightforward is the best way to clearly convey a message.
2. Write short sentences.
Self-edit at least twice before sending an email or other type of business copy. Cut out any unnecessary words. When you don’t re-read what you’re going to send, you could send the email with a typo or unnecessary wordiness. Also, double check who you’re sending the email to so that you don’t accidentally email the wrong person. Lastly, make sure you’ve attached any documents you say you’re attaching.
3. Don’t use jargon.
Avoid foreign phrases, scientific words or difficult-to-understand jargon. If someone would have to refer to a dictionary or other resource to understand your copy, revise until it’s as simple as possible. Make sure you’re writing for the level of the person you’re sending the email to. For example, if you’re writing to another scientist, then scientific words are fine to use.
4. When writing an email, get right to the point.
Your main idea should be in the first paragraph, if your email even has more than one paragraph. To make sure people don’t get overwhelmed by a long email, keep paragraphs to three sentences or less. Not sure what the point of your email is? Ask yourself what you want the person to do when they receive it. If you don’t have an answer, consider if it’s an email worth sending.
5. Be specific.
Don’t simply refer to “the situation,” but recap what that situation is. People get a lot of correspondence during the day and it’s not always easy to get on the right track. Plus, you don’t want anyone having to fish through old emails to figure out what you’re talking about. The easiest way to do this is to include past conversations in the email you’re sending.
6. Keep It Professional.
Opt for professionalism instead of casual speak. Don’t use paragraphs, emoticons or casual sign-offs in emails. You don’t have to be highly formal in an email, but don’t be too loose with your wording, either. The more you talk with the same people, the more casual your tone can become.
The best way to approach writing, whether you’re a professional writer or not, is to write clearly, precisely and succinctly. Remember, simplicity in writing doesn’t equal simplicity in thought.
Image Credit: Drew Coffman