Do you panic when you have to write a business letter, memo, or report? Feel baffled over coming up with the right words for expressing your points? Do you dread having to think about style, grammar, and syntax?
If those thoughts hit home, you may well be making the task of business writing much harder than it needs to be. Many professionals get hung up on the myth that only trained writers can communicate ideas successfully in writing.
The reality is that writing effective business communication is not an art, it’s a skill – and just like any other skill, it can be learned.
Think of yourself as a communicator rather than as a writer suggests the universally popular business writing bible The Essentials of Business Writing. Keep in mind that you’re not gunning for the Nobel Prize in literature; you’re simply putting information together in an orderly, understandable way so that others can read it and use it.
This easy 10-step method will help you compose business documents from faxes to e-mail to letters to complex reports and presentations:
- Identify your purpose: What is this document supposed to accomplish?
- Know your audience: Who will read this?
- Define the scope of your subject.
- Conduct research and gather information.
- Organize the data and devise a rough plan.
- Outline your project.
- Write the first draft, just letting the words flow, and without worrying about spelling or structure.
- Read the draft several times and then edit and rewrite for clarity, tone, accuracy and brevity.
- Check for grammar, spelling, and other mistakes – and DO NOT RELY on computer spelling and grammar checkers! (Eye no u dew knot believe that they can bee fooled and Miss sum errors, butt they can bee wrong, C?)
- Prepare the final copy and then proofread it AGAIN for errors. If it’s an important report or presentation, ask a coworker to take a look at it. A fresh pair of eyes often catches things you’ve missed.
Remember that effective business writing is a learned skill, and that your efforts will improve with practice. Follow these 10 simple steps for producing error-free business communication, and you’ll never again be stressed out when it’s time to write.