In this world of corporate blogging, instant press releases, and brand building in 140 characters or less, being able to communicate quickly and effectively is an increasingly vital skill to have. For business writing that appeals to the readers you want, follow these essential ten tips to create effective business communication.
1. Be Accessible
Most readers skim written communication pieces before deciding if they’re worth reading thoroughly (just as you probably did before reading this); carefully chosen paragraph breaks, headings, and subheadings help readers evaluate if they are interested in the content.
2. Be Concise and Brief
Remember that your readers are as busy as you are! Use as few words are possible to present your thoughts (concise), and present as few thoughts as possible to convey your overarching idea (brief). Avoid tangential information.
3. Be Honest and Accurate
This should go without saying; people are going to more willingly trust (and therefore do business with) companies known for their integrity. Be intentional about spreading the truth and about verifying information—anything less will annoy readers who know the facts and motivate them to look elsewhere.
4. Be Clear
Clear writing focuses on a specific objective and a specific audience. Examine your assumptions about readers—can you use industry jargon? How much background information will you need to provide? F. L. Lucas, professor of English at Cambridge University and author of Style, puts it this way: “Write to serve people rather than to impress them.”
5. Be Thorough
Truly effective communication anticipates readers’ questions and counterpoints and addresses them immediately. This, along with being accurate and honest, creates a repertoire with readers for your business as being a trustworthy source of information.
6. Revise and Correct
Multiple errors in clarity, sentence structure, or grammar undermine your validity and can be confusing for readers. Be fanatic about revising for better clarity and presentation and about editing grammatical errors throughout the writing process.
7. Be Timely
Providing relevant information at the right time is a constant challenge, but an absolute necessity. On the other hand, rushing ill-prepared communication in a dash to be relevant can create an equally sticky situation. Timely communication is effective only when it is prepared properly.
8. Build Goodwill
Each and every piece of written communication becomes a part of people’s perceptions of your business. Effective communications elicit positive reactions from readers and offer them the chance to create a personal connection with your company.
9. Package Attractively
Content is always the most important ingredient of business communication, but don’t be fooled—you start communicating with your readers even before they start reading. Simple or complex, the package that your content comes in should look professional, should be user friendly, and should be free of untrustworthy-looking advertisements.
10. Be Balanced
Ultimately, effective business communication happens when the message you present is received, understood, and accepted by your intended audience; and the best way for this to happen is to create a balance—passion with control, grammar with rhetoric, and readability with enjoyment.
As F. L. Lucas says, “This, indeed, is one of the eternal paradoxes of both life and literature—that without passion little gets done; yet, without control of that passion, its effects are largely ill or null.” In the end, you are simply a person, writing to other people, using written communication to connect.