In this competitive age of business, we are vying for the attention of investors, bankers and our bosses. In order to be able to pitch our ideas effectively, strong business writing skills are vital. There are some rules that should be followed at all times to get the most out of our writing.
Challenge your long held believes
From our early days in school, we were taught to write long winded sentences that act as fillers. This enabled us to meet mandatory teacher guidelines or word count requirements. Unfortunately, it has conditioned many of us to write more than what is required or necessary. While skills like these are still highly coveted in academia or journalism for instance, it is strongly frowned upon in business.
There are many reasons for this, but mainly it is because of the needs of our target audience. Business professionals are usually extremely busy and try arduously to cut down on the time requirements of many tasks. They will skim through reports if they can get away with it or read the short version of a text over the longer more detailed version any day. Let’s say you spend time writing your business plan: your research the necessary information, you write everything down in their respective categories, and you proofread. This may take you a long time, but a decision-maker is truly only interested in the executive summary and your financial projections. While everything else is a ‘nice to have’ if they need more detailed information down the road, the two categories mentioned are really only what is important to them.
What this tells us is that even though we need to spend time refining our business plan and ensuring its accuracy to the best of our ability, what we really need to do is make sure the executive summary truly stands out. This requires all the most important tidbits of information to be clearly highlighted from the onset and write the executive summary in a way that details everything about the business model in the first page of the business plan. This means the writing needs to be concise, clear and easily digestible. Do not use large words or technical terms if they are not absolutely necessary as again it adds to the time commitment required for a business executive to go read through your business plan. If you are anything like me, you are shrugging at the absurdity of all this, but it is absolutely true! Making your business plan and especially your executive summary as easy to read as possible should be pursued with utter dedication if you want it to be taken seriously.
How to write concisely
Being more concise in your writing means saying what you need in a lot less words. If two words will get your point across instead of five, use the two. This is a skill most proofreaders and editors have cultivated over many years of looking over papers and documents. While many of the skills improve over time, there are some tips you can implement immediately to make your writing succinct.
- Avoid filler words where you can.
Words such as basically, in addition, therefore, moreover etc. tend to prolong your written report and do not add any material benefit or impact on the document you are writing. Once you consciously start to avoid these type of words, you will be able to articulate your point much faster.
- Use Accurate Language
Using accurate language allows you to state your point in a less amount of words.
For example, instead of saying: “My three male cousins who were from London decided to visit us” say “My cousins decided to visit us”. This is an example of a sentence that is too wordy and can be easily redacted to only include the crux of your point. Proofreading your writing to reduce any extra words greatly enhances your ability to write concisely.
- Be Mindful of Sentence length
Try to reduce the length of your writing by avoiding any unnecessary compound or complex sentences. Shorter sentences help your ideas flow better. Your thoughts are also better expressed. By jamming too many words in a sentence, you run the risk of being ambiguous or not having a clear point.As always if still in doubt, you can order an editing and proofreading service of your business document with one of our in house professional editors.