Effective business writing is an essential skill for employees. Managers report that many employees are unable to communicate clearly in writing, and employees report that lackluster writing skills have hindered their careers. Some simple adjustments can improve employees' business writing skills.
1. Eliminate "there are." This expression does not advance or clarify the meaning of a sentence; in fact, it simply adds unnecessary bulk and weight to the message. Instead, begin with the action of the sentence so that "there are many ways to improve one's writing" becomes "the keys to improving one's writing are planning, practice, and editing."
2. Be concise. Eliminate vague or trite expressions like "think outside the box." If you want your audience to be creative, say it: "This project requires your ingenuity, flexibility, and creative problem solving."
3. Embrace variety. Be sure to use a variety of sentence styles to convey your message. Too often, business writers rely on the same sentence patterns; for variety, include compound and complex sentences, employing the correct punctuation to tailor your message to its intended purpose and audience.
4. Be active. Often used to convey bad news, the passive voice connotes an obligation of responsibility: "Your account was accidentally terminated." Sometimes the passive voice is effective (bad news), but for most business writing, the active voice is preferable: "We must increase the scope of the project" is better than "The project's scope must be increased."
5. Weed. Remove unnecessary words from your message: "Very," for example means nothing, and "hopefully" is woefully misused. Instead of writing, "Hopefully, you will be very satisfied with the results," try "I hope you will be satisfied with the results." Same message, better writing.
Writing is an essential communication skill in nearly every industry and can help employees advance their careers. Like any skill, writing requires practice and attention to detail, and employees are wise to include the adjustments mentioned above in their plans for developing their writing capabilities.