Boost Your Career With These 6 Essential Tips for Clear and Concise Business Writing

I receive lots of requests from folks who want to do a guest post on this blog  and for members of my career mentoring site.  I turn down most of them because of the poor quality of writing. Every once in a while, I find someone who is an excellent writer – and who has something really important to say.

Kay Hutchings-Olsson is such a person. She is a freelance copywriter at KHO Copywriting and an editor, proofreader and business writer at KHO Language Services. You can also find her on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.

Kay was gracious enough to send me this guest post in which she lays out six tips for clear and concise business writing. I have found that clear, concise writing is an important key to life and career success. Writing well will get you noticed in a positive way.

Check out Kay’s thoughts on clear and concise business writing…

One common concern among business managers is the writing skills of their personnel…or rather their lack of writing skills. Sloppy grammar and spelling mistakes…waffle and lack of clarity…all these things drive employers to distraction and can seriously stunt your career progression.

So what can you do to improve your writing and boost your career chances?

Know what you want to say

Before you start writing, take some time to think about your message. What is it you want to say? A lot of poor writing is due to undeveloped ideas and lack of research.

Are you writing to introduce yourself to a new client? Are you following up with a prospect? Are you replying to a request for information? Always keep in mind the reason why you are writing and do the required research to make sure you include all the necessary information.

Tailor your writing to your target audience

Most of us can spot a “copy and paste” bulk communication a mile off, and as a result the lack of personalized writing makes us far less receptive to the message.

Always write with a specific reader in mind, whether it’s a client, a supplier or a CEO. And always research the type of company your reader works for as this can affect your style of writing. For example, you should be more formal in a message to the CEO of a large company than an administrative assistant at a smaller company, even if you’re on first-name terms with them both.

Make your message short and clear

We’re all strapped for time, so keep your writing concise and to the point. You might need to rewrite your message, editing and cutting out unnecessary words and sentences. You want your reader to be able to scan through your text quickly to get all the information they need and understand your key ideas.

Don’t, of course, sacrifice content and quality in order to keep your text short. Use the number of sentences necessary to convey your message effectively, but no more. Don’t “stuff” your writing with waffle and superfluous words. You’ll only annoy your reader.

Use appropriate words

Emails and social media give the impression that business writing is far more informal than in the past, and this is partly true. However, you still need to be aware of business etiquette and the language you use. Depending on whom you write to, it may be more appropriate to write “Dear Mr. Smith” than “Dear John”. Some people are very particular about titles and how they are addressed.

The topic of your writing will also determine what words are appropriate. Is your letter giving bad news? Are you congratulating someone or asking advice? Can your reader easily decipher that from your choice of words? Different situations require different protocols; sometimes your language needs to be subdued and reserved, other times more energetic and friendly.

Review your work

There’s nothing more off-putting than reading a text that contains spelling and grammar errors, or lacks clarity and focus. If people spot errors in your writing or find your writing boring or disorganized, they won’t read on. That pretty much kills stone dead the purpose of your writing – to communicate. And it won’t do your professional reputation or career prospects any good either.

By all means use spelling/grammar-checkers, but don’t over-rely on them. If you’re unsure, check in a dictionary and, if time allows, get someone else (with good writing skills) to read through your text. A fresh pair of eyes can pick out overlooked mistakes. Plus you can get their feedback on the flow and effectiveness of your writing.

Become an avid reader

One of the best ways to become a better writer is to become an avid reader. Subscribe to respected business newsletters and journals, and study the language. And you don’t have to restrict yourself to business material because reading good-quality fiction will also help you improve your own writing skills.  Always make time for reading and learning – it will pay dividends in your career.

These are six important tips for becoming an effective business writer.  Put them to use and watch your career flourish.

Your career mentor,


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